Nov 10, 2008

Deep penetrating thought

If khram didn't mean "church" or "temple" in Russian, I'd wonder if Borat's faux Kazakh word for penis was inspired by Rahm Emanuel.

Nov 9, 2008

The Left vs. Larry Summers

It's another of those rare occasions when I have to disagree with Digby. I am puzzled with the Left's allergy to Larry Summers; one of its symptoms is obsessively scratching and digging up the 1991 World Bank memo about the possibility of selling toxic waste to Third-World countries. Says Digby:
Jonathan goes on to point out the unpleasant truth about such allegedly "out of the box" thinking --- that the people who reap the "benefit" of such things usually don't have to live in the putrid, polluted hellhole that's created by our toxic waste.
All I have to say in response is what I already wrote in a comment to a similarly-themed diary on Daily Kos, and an important part of it was the exact mirror image of Digby's thought - the people who scream that it is horrible and evil even to consider such ideas also don't have to share the fate of the poor people in the Third World:
In third world countries there are cities where children spend all day scavenging landfills. Perhaps there is unpolluted nature 20 miles away, but that does not help to make the lives of those children any safer, healthier, or more hopeful. Some more wealth in the country might, though - provided we can make sure it is actually spent on developing the country's economy and not on the leaders' luxury.
My current opinion (which is reality-based, so it may change with new information) is that toxic waste trade would be a bad idea, primarily because we could not effectively ensure that the money would be well spent. My educated but fallible guess is that Summers holds a similar view; my million-dollar bet is that he would similarly try to base his conclusions on reality and facts.

Look, some ideas seem yucky. But dissecting frogs is also yucky, and if you can't get over it, you can miss out on learning science. Part of maturity is that we should not let the yuck factor dictate our thought process and evaluation of ideas.

C'mon, people. All Larry is guilty of is bad taste.

I've been hoisted

There is no individual blog I read more faithfully than Brad DeLong's, so I was honored that he elevated my recent comment to a post. Prof. DeLong adds:
What would I have to pay to get another, alternative, decent opposition party to the Democrats?
I agree. A functioning democratic society needs a vigorous opposition - but that's different from a vicious opposition.

Nov 7, 2008

BREAKING: President-elect Obama arrested by the Grammar Police

Obama in today's press conference:
Well, President Bush graciously invited Michelle and I to -- to meet with him and First Lady Laura Bush. We are gratified by the invitation. I'm sure that, in addition to taking a tour of the White House, there's going to be a substantive conversation between myself and the president.
This is the kind of grammar up with which I will not put. (Yes, I know the irony of this paraphrase. It's intentional. Snarky responses are preempted.) I expect my president to speak English better than I, an immigrant from a country most Americans can't find on a map.

Besides the felony of using "I" as a direct object, the president-elect has also been charged with stylistic misdemeanors of using unnecessary and awkward passive voice where "We are grateful for the invitation" would sound better and have a clearer meaning, and saying "between myself and the president" where "between the president and me" would be the minimally acceptable improvement, but we should expect no less than a complete rephrasing, such as "...I'm going to have a substantive conversation with the president."

The "tour of the White House" jab has been noted as evidence of good character, possibly mitigating the charges.

'Scuse me while I kiss this guy

Hey, if there are no Blue States and Red States, then they are all a Purple Haze and I am allowed to misquote Jimi Hendrix lyrics. Anyway, how could you not love this guy:
The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, "I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."
Yes, Virginia, there are stupid questions! What makes that conversation dear to my heart is that I became 100% sold on Obama when I saw him challenge debate moderators with responses like "I reject the premise of this question..." (I had preferred him from the beginning, but that assured me he was the no-BS leader we needed.)

Turns out I was also right about Hillary back in June. Newsweek:
On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.
I would have voted for her had she been the nominee, but I am so glad she is not our new president-elect!

P.S. I don't know how I feel about these embargoed-until-after-election reports. It's nice to find out some inside information, but it is against the spirit of reporting. Shouldn't the people who recorded this stuff be called historians rather than journalists? (That's not irrelevant. I am pretty sure Newsweek's reporters earn more than most historians.)

Does Obama oppose same-sex marriage?

A commenter to this post keeps insisting on false equivalences based on Obama's stated lack of support for gay marriage. Bullshit. First, the obvious: Obama spoke clearly against California's Proposition 8, which proves that he is even less supportive of opposition to gay marriage. But let's think about this issue a bit deeper. Obama could support gay marriage all he wanted, but there is nothing he could do as president to institute it. Marriage is not a matter of federal policy. At least, it is not supposed to be; however, conservatives (who are for "states' rights" when the states are bigoted, but apparently not otherwise) have tried to change the Constitution to define marriage as heterosexual only. And back in 1996, when the public opinion was much less enlightened, they passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) with significant bipartisan support. So what is Obama's position on DOMA?

Here's Glenn Greenwald:
Some appear not to know that a candidate (named "Barack Obama") who has repeatedly and emphatically vowed to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act -- and who called it an "abhorrent law" -- just won a national election in a landslide. And, in the very widely watched Vice-Presidential debate, this is what his Vice Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, said:
Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple. . . .

It's what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do. . . . there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple.
That's what repeal of Section 3 of DOMA would enable -- treating opposite-sex and same-sex couples exactly equally. That's all it would do; it would not re-define "marriage."
So in every way that matters, the Obama-Biden administration is committed (in the sense of clearly stated campaign promises) to equal rights for same-sex couples. True, they will not force the individual states to allow same-sex couples to marry (And how could they? The President has no such constitutional authority.) but they have clearly promised not to stand in the way of same-sex marriage when states choose to allow it.

Nov 5, 2008

Dodo alert

What is happening to the moderate Republicans? How did those from the top of the Republican part of the 110th House rankings do in this election?
  1. Wayne Gilchrest (MD-1) lost in the primary to the conservative Andy Harris. Harris is currently trailing Democrat Frank Kratovil by 915 votes.
  2. Jim Ramstad (MN-3) did not run for reelection. In his district, Republican Erik Paulsen defeated Democrat Ashwin Madia. Paulsen's campaign involved some dirty advertising, not a good sign for moderation.
  3. Frank Lobiondo (NJ-2) was reelected.
  4. Chris Smith (NJ-4) was reelected.
  5. 38-year-old Mike Ferguson (NJ-7) did not run for reelection. State Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance kept the seat for the Republicans. Lance appears to be a moderate.
  6. Jim Saxton (NJ-3) retired. John Adler won the seat for the Democrats.
  7. John McHugh (NY-23) was reelected.
  8. Jim Walsh (NY-25) did not seek reelection. Daniel Maffei picked up the seat for the Democrats.
  9. Mark Kirk (IL-10) was reelected in a replay of the 2006 tight race against Dan Seals.
  10. Tim Johnson (IL-15) was easily reelected.
  11. Chris Shays (CT-4), the Last of the New England Republicans, lost to Democrat Jim Himes.
  12. Dave Reichert (WA-8) is leading Darcy Burner by less than 2000 votes with less than half of the precincts reporting. This is looking like a replay of their 2006 race, which Reichert won by 2%, but it may be even closer this time.
So, of the dozen most moderate House Republicans, 4 did not run, 1 was defeated in the Republican primary, 1 lost in the general election, 1 is involved in a very tight election, 1 was reelected in a slightly less tight race, and 4 were reelected with ease. As for the seats of the 4 who didn't run, 2 switched to Democrats, 1 to a more conservative Republican, and 1 to another moderate Republican. All in all, half of the dozen most moderate Republican seats in the House have switched out of that category.

For comparison, of the 12 most conservative House members, 11 were easily reelected; only Bill Sali from Idaho lost (to Democrat Walt Minnick).

Moderate republicans are going the way of the dodo.

TAKS and KKK effects

The TAKS effect: Every state that starts with "T", "A", "K" or "S" voted for McCain. There are 10 such states and they comprise 98 electoral votes. McCain won those states' popular vote by a margin of 14%.

Eliminate TAKS, and the rest of the country voted for Obama by a 10% margin (compared to the 6% for the whole country). The electoral vote count is 349-64 (with 27 yet to be determined).

The KKK effect: Every state with a "K" in its name voted for McCain. There are 8 such states and they have 41 electoral votes; McCain has won 40, while one from Nebraska is still uncertain. McCain won those states by 19%.

Eliminate KKK, and the rest of the country voted for Obama by an 8% margin, with the electoral vote count is 349-122 (with 26 yet to be determined).

Eliminate both TAKS and KKK, and Obama wins by 11% and 349-50 electoral votes (with 26 pending). Additionally, the 55-40 advantage in the Senate becomes 49-21, and the 245-157 advantage in the House becomes 219-121. (Pending seats not counted.)

Well, Mr. President, you may say there are no red states and blue states, but there sure are TAKS states and KKK states, and they don't like you very much. The rest of the country looks pretty normal.

UPDATE (many months later): Oops, not every state with a "K" voted for McCain. Thanks to Samer for correcting me.

Some trivia about the 2008 Presidential Election

As of early afternoon of The Day After Election, Obama has 63.4 million votes (52.4%) to McCain's 56 million (46.3%). As expected, Obama has exceeded Bush's 2004 record of 62 million votes. McCain got more votes than Reagan in 1984, but needs 3 million more to surpass John Kerry's 2004 count.

I am not sure what is going on with the turnout. AP is reporting estimates ranging from 134 to 137 million, but so far only 121 million votes have been counted. Is it possible that 10% of the votes haven't been counted yet? All states except Washington, Oregon and Maine have reported more than 90% of precincts, and the only others below 98% are California, Colorado, Arkansas, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. If the final vote tally increases by 10% in proportion to the votes already counted, Obama could end up with close to 70 million, and McCain could equal Bush's 2004 numbers. Alternatively, there could be a lot of invalid ballots and the estimates could fail to take that into account.

If the current popular vote percentages hold, it will mean that the pollsters were very accurate. The average was 52.0-44.4; RealClearPolitics average was 52.1-44.5; and projections were within 0.2% of the actual results. The best individual pollster was Rasmussen, whose latest poll was 52-46 for Obama, which means no error other than rounding.

Most state polls were excellent, too, at least for us who relied on FiveThirtyEight's aggregation methods. The three states that were supposed to be extremely close - MO, IN, NC - are still uncertain. Polls also did very well in most states that were expected to be close (OH, FL, VA, CO, MT, GA) or that McCain hoped would be close (NH). Obama outperformed the polls in Pennsylvania (by 4%), Nevada (by 5%) and New Mexico (by 6%), while McCain did better in Iowa (by 4%), Arizona (by 4%) and North Dakota (by 7%). It also seems that, in the states won by large margins, the winner typically outperformed the polls, but of course there were fewer polls in those states and they may not have been done as carefully.

As many have pointed out, Obama's share of the popular vote is greater than any Democrat's since 1964 and greater than any non-incumbent's since 1952 (if we count the sitting Vice President, i.e., Bush in 1988, as an incumbent). More impressive fact, in my opinion, is that, since Andrew Jackson, only two Democrats - FDR and LBJ - have won a greater share of the popular vote.

(Total nerds will also find noteworthy that in the last 10 presidential elections (since 1968), only Reagan in 1984 and Bush in 1988 got a higher percentage of the vote. Obama's popular vote margin is greater than Clinton's in 1992 and, if he ends up winning all three uncertain state, his electoral vote advantage will be greater as well.)

Obama outperformed Kerry in 44 states and DC. The only states where he did worse were Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee, and (probably) Alaska - and all but the first two were within 1 percentage point of Kerry's result. By contrast, he outperformed Kerry by 39 percentage points in Hawaii, by 22 in Indiana, 19 in North Dakota, 18 in Montana, 17 in Nebraska, 16 in New Mexico, Utah and Vermont, and 15 in Delaware and Nevada.

Obama won the majority of states, only the third Democrat since Truman to do so. (The other two were LBJ and Clinton.)

Obama did better in Delaware, DC, Illinois and Vermont than any Democrat since 1856 (when Democrats and Republicans emerged as the two major parties). His margin of victory in Delaware was second-highest for either party since 1856. (Hoover in 1928 won by 30%.)

It was the best Democratic result in California since 1936 and the second best ever (unless the final results lower the margin from the current 24% to below 21%, which was FDR's 1932 margin).

No Democrat has done better since 1964 in CO, CT, HI, IN, MD, MI, NE, NV, NH, NM, PA, VA, WI, and probably OR (where Obama seems almost certain to exceed Clinton's 10% margin from 1992). That is 14 states, in addition to the 4 (+DC) already mentioned.

It was also the second-best Democratic result "ever" (meaning since the later of statehood or 1856) in CT, HI and NH, third-best "ever" in ME, MI and NY, fourth-best "ever" in NM, PA and WI, and fifth-best "ever" in MD, NJ and OH.

It was the second-best result for a Democrat since FDR's time in CO, IN, MD, MI, NV, NM, PA, WA and WI.

In Nebraska, it was the second-best Democratic result since 1948 and third-best since 1940.

In Florida, it was the third-best Democratic result since 1948 (and better than in 1964).

In Utah, although Clinton lost by smaller margins, the Democratic share of the vote was the highest since 1968; in Texas, it just about equals Clinton's in 1996 (43.83%), which was the highest since 1976. And the result in North Carolina is the best for a Democrat since 1976.

On the other hand, Arkansas is the third-worst ever for a Democrat, Oklahoma is looking about the same as 2004, which was the third-worst ever (in both cases, only 1972 and 1984 were worse), Louisiana is the fourth-worst ever (after 1968, 1972 and 1984), Tennessee is the second-worst since 1868 (only 1972 was worse), and Kentucky and Wyoming were the worst of any year in which the Democrat won.

As the Republican streaks ended for Virginia and (probably) Indiana, the most reliable Republican states remain AK, ID, KS, NE, ND, OK, SD, UT and WY. The nine (the Nazgul?) have voted Republican in every election since 1968, 11 times in a row. By contrast, the most reliably Democratic state has been Minnesota (9 elections, since 1976) and the most reliable jurisdiction DC, which has voted Democratic in every election since the 23rd Amendment (12 elections, since 1964).

Nov 4, 2008

Deep thought

Does Bill Clinton still count as the first black president?

Nov 3, 2008

Presidential election trivia III: odds and ends

From 1992 to 2000, in 3 straight elections, no candidate got 50% of the vote. The only other time that happened was in the 4 straight elections 1880-1892.

Major party candidates who lost their home state:
  • Pinckney (1804 and 1808)
  • Rufus King (1816)
  • Van Buren (1840)
  • Clay (1844)
  • Scott (1852)
  • Fillmore (1856) - but he wasn't a major party candidate then
  • Fremont (1856)
  • Breckinridge (1860)
  • Douglas (1860)
  • McClellan (1864)
  • Greeley (1868)
  • Hancock (1880)
  • Cleveland (1888)
  • Benjamin Harrison (1892)
  • Weaver (1892) - not a major party candidate, but won EVs elsewhere
  • Bryan (1900)
  • Parker (1904) - both candidates were from NY
  • T. Roosevelt (1912) - not a major party candidate in that year
  • Taft (1912)
  • Wilson (1916) - the only one to win the election despite losing his home state
  • Cox (1920) - both candidates were from OH
  • Davis (1924)
  • Smith (1928)
  • Hoover (1932)
  • Landon (1936)
  • Wilkie (1940)
  • Dewey (1944)
  • Stevenson (1952 and 1956)
  • McGovern (1972)
  • Gore (2000)

Republicans have dominated the West since the 1920s, except for the Roosevelt-Truman years. ND-SD-NE-KS formed the "axis" that Republicans won even in 1940-48. Those 4 states went Republican in every election since 1920 except 1932, 1936, and 1964. In 1948, Oregon was the only other Republican state west of the Mississippi, but since then the West has been strongly Republican. Here is the list of Democratic states west of the Mississippi since 1952:
  • 1952: AR, LA
  • 1956: AR, MO
  • 1960: AR, LA, MO, MN, TX, NV, HI
  • 1964 (Exceptional year - D landslide): all except AZ, LA
  • 1968: TX, MN, WA, HI (and Wallace won LA, AR)
  • 1972: none
  • 1976: TX, HI, MN, MO, AR, LA
  • 1980: MN, HI
  • 1984: MN
  • 1988: HI, WA, OR, MN, IA
  • 1992: HI, WA, OR, CA (the Pacific states have become safe D territory), NV, MT, CO, NM, and "The Man" (MN, IA, MO, AR, LA)
  • 1996: Pacific + "The Man" + NV, AZ, NM
  • 2000: Pacific + NM, MN, IA
  • 2004: Pacific + MN

Presidential election trivia II: states and electoral votes

Only 3 states have held the distinction of being the state with the most electoral votes: Virginia until 1808, New York 1812-1968, and California since 1972.

1812 was the first election in which some electoral votes came from west of the Mississippi - from Louisiana.

The second state west of the Mississippi was Missouri (first voted in the 1820 election), the third was Arkansas (1836), followed by Iowa and Texas in 1848 and California in 1852.

States that voted for the first Republican presidential candidate (John Frémont) in 1856: all of New England, plus Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. All except OH look reliably Democratic for 2008. All except OH and IA voted Democratic in 2004. All except OH and NH voted Democratic in 2000. All voted Democratic in 1992 and 1996.

Free states that voted for James Buchanan in 1856: Pennsylvania (his home state), Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and California (Frémont's home state). In 1860, Lincoln won all of them (NJ split its electoral votes 4-3 in Lincoln's favor).

States Lincoln lost in 1864: Kentucky (where he was born), Delaware, New Jersey. He won Missouri and Maryland although they were slave states. He won West Virginia which was still a slave state, although it was formally committed to abolishing slavery. He also won Kansas, where the status of slavery was violently contested before the Civil War.

1872 was the first time New Jersey went completely Republican and the last time until 1928 that Virginia voted Republican.

Southern states that never voted Republican during the Civil War or the Reconstruction: Georgia and Kentucky.

In 1876, Connecticut voted Democratic, the first New England state to do that since the emergence of the Republican Party.

In 1880, the South solidified Democratic. It was also the first time Nevada voted Democratic, and the first time California did so since 1856. The only time CA went D between 1880 and 1916 was in 1892, when it split its electoral votes 8D, 1R.

In 1900, the two Dakotas voted for the same candidate for the first time (in 1892, ND split its votes 3-way and SD voted R; in 1896, ND voted R and SD voted D; in 1900, they both went R.) They voted together in every subsequent election except 1912 (when ND voted Democratic and SD Progressive) and 1916 (ND-D, SD-R). Almost all those votes were for the Republican, except in 1932, 1936, and 1964.

In 1904, Missouri voted Republican for the first time since 1864. Teddy Roosevelt solidified the West - he won all states west of the Mississippi except Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Roosevelt was the first candidate to win more than 300 electoral votes.

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson became the first candidate to win over 400 electoral votes (435 out of 531) and to carry 40 states (out of 48), despite winning only 41.8% of popular vote (which was the lowest percentage for the winner since Lincoln in 1860).

All New England states except Vermont went Democratic in 1912. Other than Connecticut, they had not done so since 1852. Massachusetts had not voted Democratic since 1820 (and in a contested election not since 1804). Ohio also went D for the first time since 1852.

Only Vermont and Utah voted Republican in 1904 1912. (Six other states - PA, MI, MN, CA, WA, SD - voted Progressive.)

From 1856 to 1908, these were the only instances of states that border Canada voting Democratic:
  • New York in 1868, 1876, 1884, and 1892; each time, the Democratic candidate was from NY.
  • Washington, Idaho and Montana in 1896 (and ID and MT again in 1900).
  • Also, in 1892, Michigan split its votes R9, D5, North Dakota split 3-way (D-R-P), and Idaho went Populist.
Pacific Coast states voting Democratic during the same period:
  • California in 1856 and 1880; also splitting its votes in 1892 (D8, R1) and 1896 (D1, R8);
  • Oregon in 1868;
  • Washington in 1896.
After the 1912-16 hiatus, all Canadian-border and Pacific-coast states again voted Republican throughout the 1920s.

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson became the first candidate to win over 400 electoral votes (435, out of 531) and to carry 40 states (out of 48) despite winning only 41.8% of the popular vote.

In 1916, the only Republican states west of the Mississippi were OR, SD, MN and IA; the West almost solidified D in a near-reversal of 1904. However, all of Northeast (except NH) was back in the Republican column.

Wilson won in 1916 despite losing his home state (NJ); he was the only presidential candidate ever to do that. Charles Hughes became the first candidate to lose despite winning more than 200 electoral votes (254). Only Al Gore won more EV while losing the election (267); had Florida been counted properly, the 2000 election would not have been as close as the 1916 one.

In 1920, Tennessee went Republican for the first time since 1868, and Oklahoma for the fist time since it became a state. The West was again solidly Republican as in 1904. Harding became the first Republican to win more than 400 EV.

In the three elections of the 1920s, the only Democratic electoral votes outside the Confederacy came from Kentucky in 1920, Oklahoma in 1924, and Massachusetts and Rhode Island in 1928.

1928 was the first election in which Texas and Kentucky voted Republican; Texas didn't go Republican again until 1952 and Kentucky not until 1956. Also, FL went R the first time since the controversial 1876 and NC and VA the first time since 1872. Hoover won more EV (444) than any Republican before him, and was the first Republican to carry 40 states.

In 1932, Minnesota voted Democratic for the first time ever, Michigan the first time since 1852, Ohio the second time since 1852 (the only exception was 1912), South Dakota the second time since statehood (first was in 1896), and Wisconsin the third time since 1852 (the first two were 1892 and 1912).

In 1936, FDR won 523 electoral votes out of 531. Ronald Reagan won 525 EV in 1984, but out of a greater total (538), so that FDR still holds the record for the highest percentage of electoral votes won.

States that voted against FDR:
  • ME, VT - all 4 times;
  • IN, ND, SD, NE, KS, IA, CO - twice (1940, 1944);
  • PA, DE, CT, NH in 1932;
  • MI in 1940;
  • WY, OH in 1944.
FDR won a cumulative total of 1876 electoral votes in his 4 elections. None of his opponents won 100 EVs (Dewey did the best with 99). The cumulative total of EVs his opponents won in the 4 elections (248) would not have been enough to win a single election.

Harry Truman in 1948 was the first Democratic nominee to lose SC and LA since 1876 and MS and AL since 1872. (Of course, Thurmond, who won them, was also a Democrat at the time, so it wasn't a party realignment.)

In 1952, Texas went Republican for the second time ever, Virginia for the second time since 1872, and Florida the second time since 1876. (In each case, the first time was in 1928.) In a dramatic switch of allegiance, Virginia has only voted Democratic once since - in 1964.

In 1956, Eisenhower carried more states (41) and won more electoral votes (457) than any Republican before him. Eisenhower's cumulative total of 899 EVs was second only to FDR's. (It has since been exceeded by Nixon and Reagan.) Louisiana went Republican the first time since 1876.

Eisenhower won Massachusetts twice, the only Republican to do so since McKinley between McKinley and Reagan.

In 1960, Nixon won more states than JFK (26-22), but lost the Electoral College 303-219. It was the first election in which the loser carried more states than the winner since the anomalous 1824 election, which was decided by the House of Representatives. (Garfield and Hancock carried 19 states each in 1880; Taylor and Cass carried 15 each in 1848.) It happened again in 1976, when Ford won more states than Carter, and it would have happened in 2000 if Gore had won Florida.

Pennsylvania and Michigan voted for JFK in 1960. The only Democrat they had voted for since 1856 (1852 in Michigan's case) was FDR (and each state even voted against him once).

1964 landslide LBJ victory was the only time Alaska voted Democratic, the first time Vermont voted D since 1852, and the second time ME voted D since 1852 (first was in 1912). However, it was also the first time ever that Georgia voted Republican (it didn't do so even during the Reconstruction) and the best Republican showing in the Deep South (all 5 states, 47 EVs) ever, and the only time R had done better in the Confederacy since 1872 was in 1928, when Hoover won 5 states and 62 EVs. Interestingly, there is no Southern state that both Hoover and Goldwater carried. (They did both carry Arizona, however.) 1964 was the last time Virginia voted Democratic.

1968 was the last time a third-party candidate won electoral votes. George Wallace carried 5 states (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA) worth 46 electoral votes. 4 of the 5 states were Goldwater states in 1964; the difference is that Wallace carried AR, but lost SC.

Before Wallace, the last third-party candidate to win electoral votes was Harry Byrd, who won 15 EVs in 1960, carrying Mississippi, the majority of Alabama's EV, and 1 EV from Oklahoma. His running mate, Strom Thurmond, had won 4 states (LA, MS, AL, SC) and 39 EVs in 1948.

The last non-Dixiecrat who won EVs as a third-party candidate was Robert M. La Follette, Sr., Progressive who won Wisconsin's 13 EV in 1924. Teddy Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912, made the best showing of any third-party candidate, winning 6 states and 88 EV. He won more popular and more electoral votes than the Republican candidate William Howard Taft. In 1888, Populist Weaver won 4 states (KS, CO, NV, ID) and partial EV from another two (OR, ND), for a total of 22 EV.

In 1872, 6 candidates won EVs, but all of them were Republicans and Democrats (and the election was complicated by Greeley's death). In 1860, 4 candidates won EVs: Lincoln (Republican) 180, Breckinridge (Southern Democrat) 72, Douglas (Northern Democrat) 12, and Bell (Constitutional Union) 39. Bell won KY, TN, and VA. Douglas only won MO, despite winning almost as many popular votes as Breckinridge and Bell together.

Millard Fillmore carried Maryland's 8 EV as the Know-Nothing candidate in 1856.

5 people won EVs in 1836, but they were all Democrats or Whigs. In 1832, Nullifier John Floyd won South Carolina and Anti-Masonic William Wirt won Vermont. And, of course, in 1824, four Democratic-Republicans split the EV and the House had to decide the election.

In 1972, Nixon set the record, carrying 49 states. He failed to top FDR's 523 EV, but his 520 brought his cumulative total to 1040, surpassing Eisenhower and remaining to this day second only to FDR. It was also the first time the Republican candidate swept the Confederacy, and the first time Hawaii voted Republican

1976 was the closest EV race between 1916 and 2000. Ford won more states than Carter (27 vs. 23+DC), but Carter won 297 EV to Ford's 240 (plus 1 that a rogue elector cast for Reagan). It was also the last time a Democrat won MS, AL, SC, or NC.

In 1980 and 1984 Reagan won Massachusetts. The only other Republican to win MA since 1924 was Eisenhower (who won it twice).

Reagan's 525 EV in 1984 was the most ever (but FDR won a higher percentage of EV in 1936) and his 49 states tied Nixon's record from 1972. It was the second and last time Hawaii went Republican. Reagan's 1014 cumulative EV total (1015 if 1976 is counted) is the third-highest ever (after FDR and Nixon), but the highest ever from two elections. (FDR's 2-election best is 995 in 1932-36.) The last candidate to lose fewer electoral votes in two elections was James Monroe, who was barely opposed in 1816 and essentially unopposed in 1820. Monroe lost a total of 37 EV, but he only won 411, so percentage-wise Reagan did better. Only Washington did clearly better than Reagan in this respect, but he was unopposed both times.

1988 was the last time CA, CT, DE, IL, MD, ME, MI, NJ, PA and VT voted Republican.

1992 was the last time CO, GA and MT voted Democratic.

1996 was the last time "the man" (column of 5 states comprising MN, IA, MO, AR and LA) voted for the same candidate. (It also happened in 1932, 1936, 1972, and 1992, so FDR, Nixon and Clinton were the only candidates to carry all those 5 states.) It was also the last time AR, AZ, FL, KY, LA, MO, NV, OH, TN, and WV voted Democratic; in Arizona's case, it was the only time since 1948.

In 2000, Al Gore got the most EV ever for a losing candidate (267, but officially 266 because one elector cast a protest vote). It was also the last election in which the 2 largest states went for the same candidate (and the last election in which NY was the 2nd-largest state).

Presidential election trivia I: national popular vote

First to get more than 1 million votes: William Henry Harrison and Martin Van Buren in 1840.

First to get more than 2 million votes: Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He won 55% of the total vote in this wartime election. (In his first election, before the South seceded, he won less than 40%, although it was still more than 10% more than the nearest opponent.)

First to get more than 3 million votes: Ulysses S. Grant in 1868. Grant won 55.6% of the popular vote, more than any candidate since Andrew Jackson in 1828.

First to get more than 4 million votes: Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tlden in 1876. Famously (or infamously), Tilden got more votes, the election hinged on Florida and was decided by a commission along partisan lines.

First to get more than 5 million votes: Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland in 1888. Cleveland got more votes, but Harrison prevailed in the Electoral College. That didn't happen again until 2000.

First to get more than 7 million votes: William McKinley in 1896. McKinley was the first candidate to get more than 50% of the vote since Tilden in 1976 and first to win with more than 50% since Grant in 1872. William Jennings Bryan won over 6 million votes, more than any candidate before that year.

First to win by a margin of more than 1 million votes: Teddy Roosevelt in 1904. His margin was actually over 2 million votes, and his percentage (56.4%) was more than anyone's since Monroe ran unopposed in 1820. (Interestingly, his Electoral College victory was not particularly lopsided: he won 32 out of 45 states and 70% of the electoral vote. He was, however, the first candidate to win over 300 electoral votes.)

First to get more than 10 million votes: Warren G. Harding in 1920. Harding was also the first to get more than 15 million (actually more than 16 million), the first to win by a margin exceeding 5 million (actually over 7 million) and the first to win more than 60% of the popular vote in 100 years, since Monroe in 1820 (and first to do that in a competitive race since 1808). It is interesting how little relation there was between his electoral success and his record as President. He must not have been unpopular in his time, though: when his successor Calvin Coolidge ran for reelection, he won by a popular-vote margin of 25.2%.

First to get more than 20 million votes: Herbert Hoover in 1928. Hoover also set the new record with 444 electoral votes. His opponent, Alfred E. Smith, became the first losing candidate with more than 10 million votes.

Franklin D. Roosevelt set the new popular-vote record in 1932, although without crossing any trivia-worthy milestone. However, his popular-vote percentage (57.4%) was the highest for a Democrat since Andrew Jackson. Moreover, he was the first Democrat to get more than 50% of the vote since Tilden in 1876 (neither Cleveland nor Wilson ever accomplished that) and the first Democrat to win with more than 50% of popular votes since Pierce in 1852.

First to get more than 25 million votes, and first to win by a margin of more than 10 million votes: FDR in 1936. (Only LBJ in 1964, Nixon in 1972 and Reagan in 1984 have won by more than 10 million votes since.) His 27.7 million votes was not surpassed until 1952. FDR also bested Harding's modern-era record in popular-vote percentage (60.8% vs. 60.3%). His 523 electoral votes remained the record until 1984 and is still the record percentage-wise (2 states have been added to the Union and DC has become represented in the Electoral College since then).

FDR was also the first candidate to win a cumulative total of over 100 million votes. In his 4 presidential elections, he won a total of 103 million votes.

First to lose despite getting more than 20 million votes: Wendell Wilkie in 1940.

First to get more than 30 million votes: Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. In his 1956 reelection, Eisenhower got over 35 million votes, and won more states (41) and electoral votes (457) than any Republican before him.

First to lose despite getting more than 30 million votes: Richard Nixon in 1960. Nixon was also the first loser to get more votes than FDR got in any single election.

Popular-vote records set by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964: first to get over 40 million (43.1 million), highest modern-time percentage (61.1%), first to win by a margin of more than 15 million. It was also the first time Vermont voted for a Democrat since 1852 and the only time ever Alaska did so, but also the first time ever that Georgia voted for a Republican (which it didn't do even during Reconstruction).

First to get more than 45 million votes: Richard Nixon in 1972. In his 3 presidential elections, Nixon won a cumulative total of 113 million votes, breaking FDR's record. Nixon's cumulative vote record still stands.

First to get more than 50 million votes: Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Reagan is the most recent president who won more than 50% of the vote twice. That is a surprisingly rare feat; the only presidents who accomplished that before Reagan were Eisenhower, FDR, McKinley, Grant, Jackson, Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, and Washington. Note that the list includes 3 Founding Fathers, one who essentially ran unopposed (Monroe), three generals famous for critical victories in major wars (Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower) and only 3 "normal" politicians (McKinley, FDR, Reagan). Of the 5 candidates on the list whose popular vote counts are reasonably meaningful (that would be starting with Grant), FDR had the highest average vote percentage (56.6%), followed by Eisenhower (56.3%), Reagan (54.8%), Grant (54.2%), and McKinley (51.3%).

First to lose despite getting more than 40 million votes: Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Bill Clinton was the first president since Wilson to win twice with less than 50% of the popular vote. That is an even rarer feat than winning twice with over 50%; only 3 candidates ever did it. (The third, or chronologically the first, was Grover Cleveland.)

First to lose despite getting more than 50 million votes: Al Gore in 2000. Of course, Al Gore lost only because the votes in Florida were not properly counted.

First to get more than 60 million votes: George W. Bush in 2004. Bush thus joined FDR and Nixon as only the third person to get more than 100 million cumulative votes. He failed to best Nixon's record, but he did win the most votes in 2 elections. (Nixon's cumulative votes are a 3-election total, and FDR's are over 4 elections.)

Will Obama exceed 70 million? With a good turnout, that is possible.

Honorable mention list: John Kerry (2004), James M. Cox (1920), Charles Hughes (1916), William Jennings Bryan (1896), Grover Cleveland (1888), James Blaine (1884), Winfield Scott Hancock (1880), Samuel J. Tilden (1876), Horatio Seymour (1868), Winfield Scott (1852), Henry Clay (1844), Martin Van Buren (1840), John Q. Adams (1828), Andrew Jackson (1824), DeWitt Clinton (1812), and Thomas Jefferson (1796) lost, but got more votes that anyone before them. Cleveland, Tilden and Jackson also got more votes than the winner of their election. (Note that John Adams in 1800, Charles Pinckney in 1804, Horace Greeley in 1872, Benjamin Harrison in 1892, William Jennings Bryan in 1900, Herbert Hoover in 1932, Wendell Wilkie in 1940, and Thomas Dewey in 1948 also got more votes than anyone other than themselves or the winner of their election.)

Nov 2, 2008

Why didn't he steal this?

Why didn't McCain steal Randy Newman's "Rednecks" as his campaign song?

Good satire and lame satire

I disagree with Crooks and Liars' assessment of the SNL spoof of Keith Olberman. If the "Special Comment" had been the entire skit, it would have been great. Affleck got the angry Olbermann's voice and mannerism perfectly, and the absurd topic of the comment works well because it caricatures the fact that KO's Special Comments all look and sound very similar regardless of what he is talking about. But the rest of the skit didn't work, for two reasons. First, Affleck is not at all convincing as Olbermann in a "normal" mood. Second, and more important, the writing is poor. Reader RayC explains it perfectly in the comments:
In order for a good satire to be the most effective to me you need to take a bit of truth and stretch it to the breaking point. That "truth" is false so the bit fails. I think they missed on this one. The "truth" they seem to be lampooning is that Keith is outraged over trivial matters and cuts guests off before they can disagree. I have never seen him do either one of these things.
Now lame jokes are nothing unusual, so in itself it is not a big deal. But the ending proves that the writers know how to write a funny skit, so why did they fail in the first half? The most likely reason - pointed out in lilybelle's comment - is also the most worrisome:
It felt scripted so that some NBC exec could say "See, we criticize liberals too." If such false equivalence is the only motivation for a skit, bad comedy ensues.
If your goal is to make a lot of friends, perhaps satire is the wrong line of work for you.

There still are some honorable Republicans

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders:

Now that is honor and patriotism. And a real American. That's the kind of Republicans who inspire hope that there can be a viable, civilized, mature opposition to the Democratic Party.