Tim’s 2016 Presidential Election Predictions

Just thought I’d make a few election predictions for the upcoming 2016 US presidential election. Before we get started, I’ll say up front that I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. They’re both terrible candidates and I am seriously disappointed in the voters and the political parties whose actions have led to us having such a historically awful pair of choices in November. Shame on all of you.

With that, here are my election predictions for what will go down in November.

Voter Turnout Will Drop Below 50 Percent

Americans are disgusted with the way this election has played out. From Trump’s manipulative pandering, to Clinton’s prioritization of her own convenience over national security, to the Democratic National Committee rigging the primary election against Bernie Sanders from the start, everyone is simply fed up.

We haven’t seen voter turnout below 50 percent since 1920 and 1924, but the first of my election predictions is that a record number of voters will opt not to vote, and as a result 2016 will see turnout hit at least a 92-year low. I could even easily see turnout dropping below 45 percent, which would be the lowest level in nearly 200 years.

Neither Clinton Nor Trump Will Receive More Than 45 Percent Of The Vote

Clinton and Trump are literally the least-liked candidates ever to run, by a wide margin. If either party had put up a different candidate, they likely would have won in the biggest blowout since Reagan’s 1984 reelection. Instead, we’ve got two candidates that most of the country can’t stand.

Even many Democrats and Republicans are disgusted at the candidate their own party has selected, to the point that they’re not willing to vote for their own party just to support the “lesser of two evils.”

As it stands now, I expect that the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson will net at least ten percent of the vote. I would not be surprised to see them pull in twenty percent or more, collectively edging out Ross Perot’s 1992 performance.

Donald Trump Will Probably Win

As much as I’d like to believe that there’s some way we’ll break a 164-year streak and elect someone other than a Republican or Democrat, it just doesn’t seem at all likely.

If I’m forced to choose who I think is likely to win this year between the two terrible choices that were nominated by the major parties in the past week, I’m going to have to pick Trump.

When Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, like most people I laughed and assumed it was basically nothing more than a poorly-executed publicity stunt. And yet, here we are just over a year later and he’s not only the Republican nominee, but he’s even edged ahead of Hillary Clinton in the polls. As this has played out I’ve been reading Scott Adams’ blog, where he has been predicting and—more importantly—explaining Trump’s rise every step of the way.

tl;dr – It’s all about persuasion. Adams contends that Trump is a “master persuader,” who is playing the game in a completely different way than any of the other candidates.

In August 2015, when election prophet Nate Silver gave Donald Trump a 2 percent chance of winning the Republican nomination, Scott Adams gave a “98% chance of Trump winning the whole thing.”

Here’s how he justified his prediction:

Since the beginning of time, every winner of every stick fight was a guy with a stick. So you’d expect that trend to continue. Until someone shows up to the fight with a flame thrower.

In mid-April before the New York primaries, when Nate Silver was predicting that Donald Trump would end up with around 1,160 of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination, here’s what Scott Adams said about Trump’s position:

This is the strongest position Trumphas been in since he announced. The chess board is all set for him to win the nomination and then go on to a landslide in the general.

I thought Adams was nuts in August, and I thought he was nuts in April, but here we are. For the record, Donald Trump ended up winning 1,543 delegates.

Also, compare Trump’s favorability trend to Clinton’s favorability trend:

Trump: Favorable/Unfavorable

Clinton: Favorable/Unfavorable

Although both candidates are still historically disliked, over the last year Trump’s net favorability has risen 13.5 points (from -34.6% to -21.1%), while Clinton’s has fallen 15.2 points (from -2.0% to -17.2%). And this is despite the fact that Trump seems to say offensive and reproachable things daily, while Clinton hasn’t had a press conference since December 2015.

And so, here’s the last of my election predictions: A specific guess for how the electoral map will play out in November:

2016 Electoral Map: Tim Ellis Prediction

So Yeah, We’re Basically Screwed

In closing, I’d like to again point out that I think both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are terrible candidates, and I won’t be voting for either of them. These are my election predictions, but they aren’t what I hope will happen. Unfortunately, I think it’s too late to realistically expect something dramatically different than the outcomes I’ve outlined above.

Despite how terrible our choices for president are, you should all at least go out and vote for your local and state races.

Here’s hoping 2020 turns out better.

All-Mail Elections Need to Go

March 2021 Update

The 2020 election is well behind us, but Trump’s big lie about election fraud is unfortunately still very popular among the Republicans. Now Republicans in a bunch of states are making a big push to pass a wide variety of bills blatantly aimed at voter suppression. I want to be extremely clear here: I do not support this in any way.

I still prefer in-person voting to all-mail voting, but I am totally in favor of dramatically expanding early voting, adding many more polling places, and generally removing obstacles to voting. I still think universal mail-in voting suffers from the problems listed below, but I strongly denounce any and all attempts to artificially limit access to voting.

August 2020 Update

With mail-in voting becoming a much larger issue nationwide in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to briefly re-visit this topic.

Given the health risks of assembling in large groups and the need to take extreme measures to combat the pandemic, I am fully supportive of using widespread mail-in ballots to mitigate public health risks.

I also want to make it very clear that I am in no way agreeing with Donald Trump’s characterization of mail-in voting as somehow rife with fraud and leading to an “illegitimate” outcome. That is garbage and obviously nonsense with absolutely no basis in reality.

That said, I do still have a number of issues with all-mail elections (outlined below), and my preferred solution to make voting equally accessible to all in normal circumstances would be to dramatically increase the number of polling places and make election day a national holiday. No one should have to wait in line for hours in order to vote. Obviously though, we are not living in normal times, so we cannot rely on normal solutions.

[end of updates, original post follows]

As another Election Day trudges along, I would like to take a few moments to rant about an incredibly stupid aspect of election administration here in Washington State: The all-mail election.

There are actually a number of things that I think are idiotic about the way we run election in this country generally and this state specifically, but for now I’m going to stick to the topic of all-mail ballots. Here are the six reasons that all-mail voting is inferior to polling-place elections, with some totally random “Christian” art thrown in to keep things visually interesting.

1) Your all-mail voting means many voters no longer have a secret ballot.
When multiple voters live together (e.g. husband and wife, older children living at home, etc.), all ballots are mailed to the home and accessible by whoever happens to check the mail. There is literally nothing to stop a controlling husband/father from forcing his electoral preferences on all other members of his household. With physical polling places, this is not an issue since each person goes into the private voting booth alone.

2) All-mail voting encourages participation from people who don’t care.
Super-White Baby JesusGetting off your butt, driving or walking to the nearest polling place, waiting in line, and casting a ballot at a physical polling place requires at least some small degree of “giving a crap.” With all-mail voting, you never even have to leave your house to cast your vote. Frankly, I don’t really want people casting a vote if they can’t be bothered to expend the minimal effort required to go to a polling place twice a year.

3) All-mail voting provides more opportunities for lost, stolen, or damaged ballots.
Ballots are all mailed out on a predictable date, which means anyone whose mailbox is not secure could have their ballot stolen before they even have a chance to fill it out. After you fill your ballot out and drop it in the mail, there’s a chance that it gets lost in the mail and fails to make it to the county elections administrators, or caught in a piece of mail-sorting equipment, rained on, or otherwise damaged to a point where one or more of your votes are unreadable. Granted, this risk is small, but with physical polling places, the risk is zero since you get the ballot, fill it out, and drop it off with election officials all in the same building.

4) All-mail voting allows candidates undue influence “at the polls.”
On the day I received my ballot, my mailbox also contained political ads for two or three candidates running for various local offices. Why should the candidate with the money to send out a mailer and the luck of good timing be allowed to have an advantage like that over his or her opponent? With physical polling places, this is not an issue since candidates are not permitted to campaign or have any campaign materials at the location where people are actually casting their votes.

5) All-mail voting drags out Election Day.
Rapture FantasyWashington State’s current system merely requires that mail-in ballots be postmarked by election day. This means that election officials won’t have all the ballots in-hand to count until days or even weeks after Election Day. We could instead require ballots to arrive at the county election office by Election Day, but then we would risk disenfranchising people whose ballots were somehow delayed in the mail through no fault of their own. With physical polling places, all the ballots can be counted on Election Day, then the election is over.

6) All-mail voting wastes paper.
In addition to the ballot itself, inside the envelope containing my ballot for today’s election, there was a security envelope, a mailing envelope, a small flyer describing new congressional districts, and another listing off ballot drop box locations. Compare this to a physical polling places, where all that needs to be printed is the ballot. Let’s assume that the three envelopes and two small flyers weigh a total of one ounce. Multiply that by the 3,851,274 registered voters in Washington State, and you’re talking about 240,705 pounds (120 tons!) of wasted paper per election.

So, there you go. If I were Secretary of State, one of my top priorities would be to eliminate all-mail voting in Washington. It’s just a bad idea, and the problems it introduces far outweigh any perceived benefits.

P.S. (These arguments should not be construed to be making a case against legitimate absentee ballots. If you aren’t going to be physically present in your voting district on Election Day, or you are physically incapable of traveling to a polling place, you should of course still get to vote.)

How do you win a major political campaign? Make crap up!

Wondering how to get elected to a major political office? Well lucky for you, today’s article in the Seattle Times answers just that question! 5 reasons Murray bucked trend, got re-elected

…Democrats weren’t content with just promoting Murray’s record.

They attacked Rossi early and often, portraying him as not just wrong on issues, but personally “sleazy,” as Pelz put it during one conference call with reporters. In particular, they ridiculed Rossi’s history of business associations with lobbyists and ethically challenged financiers.

When they did talk about issues, Democrats weren’t content with slamming Rossi for views he actually held. In some cases, they just made stuff up, accusing him, for example, of being hostile to Boeing and veterans.

“I think she succeeded in making him an equal issue, which is I think what she had to do,” said Democratic political consultant Blair Butterworth.

It may have worked, but the sometimes ludicrous lengths Murray’s campaign went to to slime Rossi should put an end to any illusions that she is still merely an idealistic mom in tennis shoes.

So apparently, all you have to do is make junk up and spend millions of dollars plastering the airwaves with your phony portrait of your opponent as Satan incarnate? Awesome.

Also, what trend did Murray “buck” exactly? The trend of Democrats waltzing to statewide victory by taking over 60% of the Seattle-area vote while losing in most of the rest of the state? Oh wait, that’s what happens in nearly every statewide election in Washington.

Winner: Most Outrageous Campaign Mailer

And the winner for the coveted “Most Outrageous Campaign Mailer” prize goes to…

“VoteVets Action Fund” for this delightful piece equating Dino Rossi with insane Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!

Dino Rossi = Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Dino Rossi = Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Congratulations! You win a virtual spit on the shoes.