Elections in the USA

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Hoogstwaarschijnlijk
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Elections in the USA

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2020-10-17, 10:30

I just read an article about this saying that Trump will be president no matter what and that the voting system is very unfair because each state has two representatives, so a state with very little people has the same power as a state with lots of people.
Do Democrats in the USA even feel they have a chance these days? Are you worried about this system?
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby linguoboy » 2020-10-17, 11:20

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:I just read an article about this saying that Trump will be president no matter what

This is nonsense. The best current polling gives Trump a 1 in 6 chance of winning—and that’s only due to the Electoral College since he’s pretty much guaranteed to lose the popular vote again by historic margins. (Of course the fact that he could still win at all is a problem and part of the reason people are widely discussing eliminating the Electoral College again.)

Who wrote this article and what are their qualifications? Everyone seems to think they can predict the outcome of the YS elections, but it’s actually takes a great deal of expertise.

and that the voting system is very unfair because each state has two representatives, so a state with very little people has the same power as a state with lots of people.
Do Democrats in the USA even feel they have a chance these days? Are you worried about this system?

That’s a reference to the Senate. The lower house is the one called “the House of Representatives”. It’s currently controlled by Democrats and will continue to be regardless how the election goes.

The unrepresentative nature of the Senate is a major problem in American politics. It was designed to prevent an urban elite from dominating the rural population but the designers probably never foresaw a future in which more than 90% of the US population was urban. It was less of an issue when politics were less partisan and Republicans and Democrats were capable of compromising on broadly popular legislation, but now having the two branches led by different parties is leading to complete gridlock.

Still here the news is good: The chances of Democrats controlling the Senate—despite their structural handicap—after the election are 73% and growing. They are outspending the opposition by at least 2:1 and voter turnout is already higher than it was in the “Blue Wave” of 2018. (A Presidential race always helps boost turnout for “downballot” races, like Senate and Governor, and boosting turnout almost invariably helps Democrats more than Republicans.)

Right now, most voters’ greatest fears are that Republicans will try to steal the elections somehow. There are already lots of shenanigans afoot and it’s possible we may never know how certain states actually voted. (Keep an eye on Florida particularly, where the Republican governor is sure to put his finger on the scale for Trump.) This will add to the postelectoral confusion and chaos, but I don’t think it’s enough to really change the result—that’s how badly Trump is losing right now.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2020-10-17, 12:27

linguoboy wrote:
Right now, most voters’ greatest fears are that Republicans will try to steal the elections somehow. There are already lots of shenanigans afoot and it’s possible we may never know how certain states actually voted. (Keep an eye on Florida particularly, where the Republican governor is sure to put his finger on the scale for Trump.) This will add to the postelectoral confusion and chaos, but I don’t think it’s enough to really change the result—that’s how badly Trump is losing right now.


This was what the article actually was about. I should have included a link: https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achter ... ~bbf38f9c/

It was designed to prevent an urban elite from dominating the rural population but the designers probably never foresaw a future in which more than 90% of the US population was urban.


This is very interesting! Now I understand the background better of why they designed it like this.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby linguoboy » 2020-10-17, 16:01

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:This was what the article actually was about. I should have included a link: https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achter ... ~bbf38f9c/

Thanks for the link. (It's actually behind a paywall, but it only took a little searching to find a site where I could read it for free.) I think you misrepresented it when you characterised it as "saying that Trump will be president no matter what". He might try but it's by no means a sure thing. Some pundits are speculating that he's just trying to sow enough confusion to cover his flight to a country without an extradition treaty in order to escape prosecution. Just yesterday he told a crowd he might have to leave the country if Biden is elected, which could be laying the groundwork for this. There's also some debate whether his recent call for Barr to arrest his political enemies was just more dictatorial ravings or if it's part of a plan to discredit calls to arrest Trump after he's out of office. (Expect Republicans to take everything Democrats are saying about how "we don't do that here" and throw it back in their faces when they demand Trump stand trial for his crimes.)

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:
It was designed to prevent an urban elite from dominating the rural population but the designers probably never foresaw a future in which more than 90% of the US population was urban.

This is very interesting! Now I understand the background better of why they designed it like this.

Unfortunately, at the time the US was formed, the planter aristocracy was very influential. That hasn't been the case for years, but the Constitution was purposefully made difficult to change (any amendments have to be ratified by two-thirds of the States--another check on the power of urban centres) and Republicans have figured out ways to exploit the system in order to remain in power. If we had mandatory voting, like some countries, they'd have to change radically in order to remain viable on the national level. That's the reason for all the different sorts of voter suppression and election meddling chronicled in the article.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2020-10-17, 18:14

I didn't realise it was behind a paywall, I must be logged in somehow :hmm:

I understood it like it definitely would work out if he tried, so I hope your interpretation is more correct.

I think that when voting would be mandatory here it would mean the opposite: the more rightwing parties would have more votes than they do have now.

What I didn't know was that there is no central registration of people, that you need to be registered for voting first. How in general do they know how much inhabitants there are, how many people are married and stuff like that? Are there decentral registrations?
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby vijayjohn » 2020-10-17, 20:23

I intended to vote this year, but I haven't even filled out the ballot request form because I work teach over 25 hours a week and haven't really had time or energy to figure out how to fill it out correctly, send it through snail mail from here, get the ballot in time, etc. so I've given up on voting this time even though I've always voted in every other presidential election I was eligible for.
linguoboy wrote:Of course the fact that he could still win at all is a problem

The fact that he managed to run at all in the first place in 2016 is such a serious problem I think my family is going to end up being unsafe in the US no matter who wins the elections. Many countries are far safer than the US right now. Taiwan is one of them.
The unrepresentative nature of the Senate is a major problem in American politics. It was designed to prevent an urban elite from dominating the rural population but the designers probably never foresaw a future in which more than 90% of the US population was urban.

And we (Murkans) basically fought an entire civil war over this, didn't we?
Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:How in general do they know how much inhabitants there are, how many people are married and stuff like that? Are there decentral registrations?

Wait, you mean the Netherlands doesn't have a census?

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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Gormur » 2020-10-17, 20:54

linguoboy wrote:It was designed to prevent an urban elite from dominating the rural population but the designers probably never foresaw a future in which more than 90% of the US population was urban.
According to census.gov, 19.3% of the US population is rural: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/ ... erica.html

About 60 million people, or one in five Americans, live in rural America.

The term “rural” means different things to different people. For many, it evokes images of farmlands and pastoral landscapes. For our purposes, we define rural based on the official Census Bureau classification. What is urban and what is rural is defined after each decennial census using specific criteria related to population thresholds, density, distance and land use.

In general, rural areas are sparsely populated, have low housing density, and are far from urban centers. Urban areas make up only 3 percent of the entire land area of the country but are home to more than 80 percent of the population. Conversely, 97 percent of the country’s land mass is rural but only 19.3 percent of the population lives there.

For more, go to Defining Rural at the U.S. Census Bureau - Opens as PDF.


I think Canada's urban population is closer to 90% though :hmm:
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby linguoboy » 2020-10-17, 22:43

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:What I didn't know was that there is no central registration of people, that you need to be registered for voting first. How in general do they know how much inhabitants there are, how many people are married and stuff like that? Are there decentral registrations?

Elections are the responsibility of local authorities. My registration is with the City of Chicago and the only information associated with it is my name and address. (This actually proved to be a problem when I tried to request a ballot online since I didn't have any way to verify my identity. Now the registration is linked to your driver's licence/state ID, but that wasn't the case when I first registered over thirty years ago.) This is one reason why there are so many opportunities for manipulation. I can't remember if the article talks about this (I was only skimming it toward the end) but some states only count absentee ballots if the election is close, e.g. if all the in-person votes have been counted and the gap between candidates is significantly more than the number of absentee ballots, they won't even bother opening them. There are real fears this year that in states with Republican administrations, absentee ballots won't be counted at all if the in-person total points to a Trump win, since most preliminary data show registered Democrats are voting by mail at about twice the rate as registered Republicans.

Gormur wrote:According to census.gov, 19.3% of the US population is rural: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/ ... erica.html

About 60 million people, or one in five Americans, live in rural America.

I never said it we were at 90%, just that the Framers never foresaw a time when we would be. I'll wager they never even expected us to be over 50%, given that in their day fewer than 1 in 20 citizens lived in an urban area.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby vijayjohn » 2020-10-18, 5:52

linguoboy wrote:There are real fears this year that in states with Republican administrations, absentee ballots won't be counted at all if the in-person total points to a Trump win, since most preliminary data show registered Democrats are voting by mail at about twice the rate as registered Republicans.

Well, shit, maybe my vote doesn't count this year after all then. Yay...?

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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2020-10-18, 6:45

vijayjohn wrote:
Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:How in general do they know how much inhabitants there are, how many people are married and stuff like that? Are there decentral registrations?

Wait, you mean the Netherlands doesn't have a census?


No, we have the 'Basisregistratie Personen' (BRP). When a child is born the parent who did not give birth goes to the city hall to get the child registered at the BRP. You get a number that you need to get registered for health care, and you need it when you get the child registered for a school and stuff. It just makes you exist, basically, that's why I suspected all other countries would have something similar.

Census reminds me of what Joseph and Maria had to do when their baby came :wink:
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Car » 2020-10-18, 14:17

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:
Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:How in general do they know how much inhabitants there are, how many people are married and stuff like that? Are there decentral registrations?

Wait, you mean the Netherlands doesn't have a census?


No, we have the 'Basisregistratie Personen' (BRP). When a child is born the parent who did not give birth goes to the city hall to get the child registered at the BRP. You get a number that you need to get registered for health care, and you need it when you get the child registered for a school and stuff. It just makes you exist, basically, that's why I suspected all other countries would have something similar.

Census reminds me of what Joseph and Maria had to do when their baby came :wink:

We have to register, too, but we don't have a number like that.

As for the census, we only have a microcensus as (as is also mentioned in the article) a proper census is legally to problematic.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2020-11-04, 5:59

How are you feeling there in the USA?
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Yasna » 2020-11-04, 6:23

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:How are you feeling there in the USA?

Feeling like the entire US polling industry needs to disband.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby md0 » 2020-11-04, 8:20

For some reason it didn't register to me that the worst case scenario on paper (Trump calling a victory early and getting the courts to stop ballot counting) would actually happen in real life :shock:

How are the legislatives going? Did any of the chambers change hands?
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2020-11-04, 10:53

Yasna wrote:
Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:How are you feeling there in the USA?

Feeling like the entire US polling industry needs to disband.


I feel really sorry for you all.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Car » 2020-11-04, 11:29

Yasna wrote:
Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:How are you feeling there in the USA?

Feeling like the entire US polling industry needs to disband.


How could this happen again? I really had the impression that nothing was learnt from the last time (or the Brexit referendum, for that matter) and the same mistakes were made again, but I didn't think it would be that bad again.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Yasna » 2020-11-04, 12:47

Car wrote:How could this happen again? I really had the impression that nothing was learnt from the last time (or the Brexit referendum, for that matter) and the same mistakes were made again, but I didn't think it would be that bad again.

From what I can gather, pollsters thought their errors in 2016 could be fixed simply by giving more weight to the responses of white men without a college degree. A leading theory is that what they actually needed to do was correct for "shy" Trump voters, a hypothetical type of voter which votes Trump but doesn't tell pollsters due to social pressures. We'll see though.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby vijayjohn » 2020-11-04, 13:39

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:I feel really sorry for you all.

Please don't. We really had it coming.

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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby Car » 2020-11-04, 17:22

Yasna wrote:
Car wrote:How could this happen again? I really had the impression that nothing was learnt from the last time (or the Brexit referendum, for that matter) and the same mistakes were made again, but I didn't think it would be that bad again.

From what I can gather, pollsters thought their errors in 2016 could be fixed simply by giving more weight to the responses of white men without a college degree. A leading theory is that what they actually needed to do was correct for "shy" Trump voters, a hypothetical type of voter which votes Trump but doesn't tell pollsters due to social pressures. We'll see though.

I see, thanks. Are there still that many "shy" Trump voters left? I mean that problem isn't new when it comes to the far-right, but I thought it had diminished or is the polarisation of US politics the reason why that might not be the case? But IIRC, it also explained why some predictions in Europe were off in the past, except we're talking about parties that weren't anywhere near as big.
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Re: Elections in the USA

Postby linguoboy » 2020-11-04, 18:20

Yasna wrote:
Car wrote:How could this happen again? I really had the impression that nothing was learnt from the last time (or the Brexit referendum, for that matter) and the same mistakes were made again, but I didn't think it would be that bad again.

From what I can gather, pollsters thought their errors in 2016 could be fixed simply by giving more weight to the responses of white men without a college degree. A leading theory is that what they actually needed to do was correct for "shy" Trump voters, a hypothetical type of voter which votes Trump but doesn't tell pollsters due to social pressures. We'll see though.

The thing is, there's been a lot of research on "shy Trumpers" since 2016 and it hasn't provided much support for the hypothesis. What seems to be more of an issue is that a lot of non-college-educated white men apparently refuse to answer polls at all, so pollsters have to try to correct for that by generalising based on the proportion who do respond. You can see where that would be likely to miss the mark.

Something which is apparent from the county-level breakdown is that there were huge swings in several Latinx-heavy counties representing an upswing in support for Trump from Latino men. (He also increased his support among Black and Asian men, though not as dramatically.) It seems likely there was a systematic polling error among this demographic prior to the election.

So mistakes were made, but I don't see any evidence yet that they were the same mistakes as last time as opposed to different mistakes with a similar skew (at least in some areas; there are places where Biden outperformed his polling, just not as many).
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