From a small northwestern observatory…

Finance and economics generally focused on real estate

A bit about the election

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This is NOT about politics, per se.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly politically active.  However, I try to focus this blog on the economy, real estate, and such and so-forth.  That said, the upcoming 2020 election is dominating the news (and will for the next 14 months, at least) and the mathematical model of getting to a “win” for the dems or the repubs is fascinating to say the least.  First, let’s reflect on the electoral map from 2016.  Note that this is ALL that matters — the dems won the popular vote hands-down in 2016, but lost because they seemingly forgot how the system actually works.

IMG_0916

Now BECAUSE of the way the system works, about 70% of all electioneering dollars in 2016 were spent in 6 states.  Indeed, about 90% was spent in 12 states.  This is a function of two things.  First, Alaska has 3 electoral votes.  Plus, Alaska is decidedly and comfortably republican.  The dems ignored it, and the republicans just needed to remind folks that the election was on a Tuesday.  Texas has something of the opposite problem — huge, but again comfortably republican.  (There is some argument that this could potentially change in 2020, but no one is betting big bucks that way just yet.)

As an aside, in 1980, presidential elections were severely limited in spending.  It’s hard to remember, but those were the post-Watergate years, and the Congress was actually jealous of its power back then.  The republicans figured to spend all of their money in the mid-west and the west. California was republican back then, and the south was considered to be solidly in Carter’s camp.  Some republican operatives had a neat idea — what if we spend a LITTLE money in the south, and throw Carter off his game down there?  That was the real tipping point for turning the south from democrat to republican.  Lots of folks don’t remember that states like Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia had prominent democrat power structures even into the 1980’s.  But, I digress…

This election — 2020 — will be fought in six states.  Period.  All of the money and all of the effort will go to (starting from the upper left and working our way down) Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  Collectively, these states have 103 electoral votes — over a third needed to win, and about three times the winning margin from 2016.  Whichever candidate carries a majority of the electoral votes in these six states will win.  Period.  Not much else matters.  (Yes, Virginia and North Carolina, I’m talking about you.)

Now, to get a sense of what’s happening, and why rallies in New Mexico and dinners in California don’t mean much, let’s look at the congressional map from 2018.  Polls lie, but electoral maps don’t…

IMG_0917

Now, this is one of the most interesting maps I’ve seen in a while.  Focus on the ledgend for a minute.  This is broken down by the 435 congressional districts, all of which were in play in 2018.  The ones in grey can be ignored — either republican or democrat, the vote there didn’t change much (plus or minus 10%) from 2018.  For example, Alaska was republican and Hawaii democrat in 2016, and that didn’t change in 2019.  Dark blue states were democrat to start with, and became more-so.  Dark red states were republican to start with, and became more-so.  Dark red basically happened in three places — the rural southern Georgia/Alabama districts, rural eastern North Carolina, and rural California.  None of these four states is in play in 2018, so basically who cares?  Dark blue, on the other hand, happened in some key areas — Miami/Dade County, where the republicans usually hope to pick up conservative Cuban voters.  It happened in central and southern Wisconsin, central Ohio, central Florida, eastern Michigan, and the small but highly populated Minneapolis/St. Paul region of Minnesota.

More interestingly are the purple districts — these flipped from republican to democrat.  this happened a LOT across the country, but most significantly in south Florida (retiree-populated Monroe county, in particular, in eastern Pennsylvania, in two districts in the suburbs of Minneapolis, and in two districts in eastern Michigan.  Now, the republicans were not without their gains — two rural districts in Minnesota (which went blue in 2016) flipped to red.  Nonetheless, the bulk of the model right now heavily favors a blue wave in these six states, if the trends continue.  In 2016, the democrats ran a “national” campaign, and the republicans focused attention on key issues that would flip swing states.  Indeed, the democrats won the “national” campaign, with a plurality of the popular vote, but lost the war.

Clearly, there are some second-tier states that are teetering on the edge of becoming swing states.  Southern Arizona, with its significant Hispanic population, and the growing up-scale suburbs in North Carolina make these two states very interesting.  Iowa made some surprising shifts in 2018, but with only 6 electoral votes, they won’t get nearly the attention they deserve.

So, predictions?  I’m loathe to put money on this, but it will be an interesting time to be a voter in Broward county, Florida.

Written by johnkilpatrick

September 20, 2019 at 8:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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