Monday, September 26, 2016

Clinton Wins First Debate

Interesting snapshot from CNN polling on tonight's first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Their sample of over 500 registered voters was asked who won the debate. They broke 62% for Clinton to 27% for Trump. The sample was 10% more Democratic and 2% less Republican than the population as a whole, so corrected for that it would still read 52% thought Clinton won and 29% thought Trump did. It was a decisive win for Clinton, who was the more knowledgeable and presidential of the two by far. CNN's focus group of 20 undecided voters is a smaller sample, but was even more decisive. 18 of the 20 said Clinton won the debate. 100 million people watched the debate, a huge audience. We'll see if this performance moves the national polling Clinton's way by the end of the week or so.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Census Bureau: Incomes Up, Poverty Down!

One of the big news items of the week concerns outstanding economic news from the Census Bureau. Major progress in family income and a big drop in the poverty rate headlined a report that surprised many with gains that had not been seen in decades. The figures, covering 2015, were immediately touted by President Obama and ought to provide a boost to the Clinton campaign as they are good news for the incumbent party.

Median household income grew 5.2% for the year, to $56,516, a gain of $2,800 in one year. It was the largest year-to-year improvement since records have been kept. Even more remarkable, it was the poorer end of the population that saw the biggest gains. The bottom ten percent saw their average incomes grow by 7.8%, while the top ten percent grew by 2.9%. The poverty rate went from 14.8% in 2014 to 13.5% in 2015, the largest yearly percentage drop since 1968. Three and a half million people were lifted out of poverty status in one year. The minimum wage was raised in 20 states, likely a big part of the reason for the strong performance. The jobs picture was also strong. "Last year, 1.4 million more men and 1 million more women were working full time year-round than in 2014," the census found.

There was good news on health care, too. 2015 saw 9.1% of Americans without health insurance, a drop from 10.4% the previous year, and the lowest uninsured rate on record. That was a single-year reduction of 4 million people, from 33 million to 29 million. The primary reason was the second full year of  implementation the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. These are rather spectacular gains. When the ACA was passed, some 15% of the population was not covered, about 47 million people. We thus already have 18 million more people, 6% of the population, insured than before the Act.

The news does not correspond to the Trump campaign's narrative of stagnating jobs and wages. Trump campaign economic spokesman Peter Navarro "did not respond to requests for comment" on the report. Meanwhile the President, campaigning for Clinton in Pennsylvania, said, "So now let's face it; the Republicans don't like to hear good news right now. But it's important just to understand this is a big deal. More Americans are working, more have health insurance, incomes are rising, poverty is falling, and gas is $2 a gallon...Thanks, Obama!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Presidential Race: Time to Ante Up and Pitch In

In a typically thorough and brilliant analysis, Nate Silver's election prediction operation finds the gap between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump narrowing. Read his latest ten-point analysis here. Silver has predicted the last two presidential elections with remarkable accuracy. His projections currently give Clinton about a two-to-one 67% to 33% likelihood of winning the election.

I said I'd be concerned and comment if Trump's chances got above 30 and so they have. I am concerned. Clinton's still in the driver's seat in popular vote and electorally, but the slide had better stop. What's happening? She's been off the campaign trail most of August, raising a massive haul of money ($140 million). She needs to and is now back campaigning. That money needs to buy a flood of effective adds, positive and negative, and fund a great organizational registration and get out the vote, (GOTV) effort, especially in the battleground states. This is where Clinton would have a big edge in states that are very close. She has dozens of offices in Florida and Ohio, for example, while Trump has only a small handful. But she's also hurt by the incessant drip about emails, eroding credibility among the persuadable. Clinton must break through the sleaze reporting with her positive growth plans and needs to (and should) turn in her normally impressive debate performances which should highlight how much more she knows, is better prepared, and is personally suited for the presidency than Trump.

The odds are about right. She is ahead and ought to win. But there is enough of a chance for Trump that it's not a certainty. That's cause to keep taking action. I just made my fifth contribution to the campaign since she announced. The Young Democrats college club I sponsor voted today to join the Registration and GOTV effort and commit to signing up 200 voters and then walking precincts the last two weeks up to Nov 8. We're still ahead and have the inside track with a more plausible route to the winning total of 270 electoral votes. But it's no time to rest easy at all.