Tag Archives: elections

Congrats GOP. Now what do we do?

Congratulations to the GOP. They accomplished a historic election victory. The largest change in government since 1948.

However, I continue to fear for this country. Not because of the politicians, but because of the people. Of the 40-50% of those eligible to vote who actually voted, how many voted for liberty and limited government? The GOP won about 54% of the total vote, so maybe 54%. Maybe more, maybe less. But considering the majority of people didn’t even bother to vote, you are looking at a very small portion of the population who understands and cares enough to vote in favor of liberty and limited government. The number is 30% of the population, at best. Probably closer to 25% or even lower.

That is a very disappointing figure. While we must be involved in the political system, that will only help us on the margin. If 25% of the population supports limited government, nominating attractive candidates may boost that to 26% or 27%. Enough to temporarily defeat the political opponent, but not enough to fundamentally change our country.

The only long-term solution is education. We need to further the ideas of liberty, limited government, and checks and balances.We need to read, we need to write, and we need to share. With Amazon.com and social media, we have the tools to spread the knowledge. All it takes it effort.

So, now that the election is over, we have three main jobs:

  1. Make sure that government officials from both parties work toward smaller government.
  2. Begin recruiting for the next election.
  3. Educate ourselves and the public as to the benefits of limited government and checks and balances as described by our Constitution and elaborated upon in the Federalist Papers.

As you know, I’ll be focusing on the third item. I’ve already written one book warning the people of the evils of big government and the democratic demand for free gifts from the government. Many of you already know that I am working on a second book, the topic of which has not yet been announced. I have many more books planned, each of which advances the cause of liberty.

But while I will concentrate on the education portion, I will not be ignoring the first two parts. I will remain active in the political arena to ensure our governments (federal, state, and local) limit their size and scope and to help choose future candidates for political office.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. It has taken 100 years for our government to go from a very minor portion of our society to the huge behemoth it is today. It may take 100 years to reverse what has been done and we may not be alive to see our success. But succeed we must for the fate of our country and the world depend on us.

Eleftheria i thanatos!

NOV 2 Prediction. A Republican tsunami! My official election prediction for the House of Representatives.

It’s election day and I am assuming there won’t be any more polls coming out. So now it is time to make my final election prediction for the House of Representatives. For those who have not been watching, this is not my first prediction.

Here is my prediction from October 22. GOP gain of 61 seats.

Here is my prediction from October 24. GOP gains 78 seats.

Here is my October 29 prediction. GOP gains 72 seats.

First a review of how I make my prediction.

I simply take the RCP average of Generic Congressional Vote as my baseline. I adjust their vote totals to assume the GOP and Dems receive 100% of the vote (ie. no third parties win any seats). Then, I have three models to convert vote totals to House seats.

40-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 1968.

8-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 2002. Because of the increase in partisanship and computerized gerrymandering, there are now many more safe seats.

1994 & 2006 model: In these two mid-term elections, control of the House switched sides against an unpopular President. The same will likely occur this year.

The models produce the following results:

40-year model: Republicans win 268 House seats, gain of 90 seats.

8-year model: Republicans win 247 House seats, gain of 69 seats.

1994 & 2006 model: Republicans win 253 House seats, gain of 75 seats.

Taking a simple average of the three, I now predict the Republicans will win 256 House seats, a gain of 78 seats.

The GOP can win 295 seats in the House, a 117-seat gain.

While I am currently predicting a gain of 72 House seats for the Republicans, the polls say that much larger gains are possible. RCP currently shows the GOP ahead by an eight-point margin. My own model shows a 7.7 percent margin. That converts into 242 to 259 House seats for the GOP, a gain of 64 to 81 seats.

However, in recent days Gallup showed the Republicans up by a 15-point margin, Fox News had them up by 13, and CNN/Opinion Research by 10 points. What if Gallup is correct and the Republicans win by a 55 to 40 margin?

According to my most generous model, my 40-year model (see details of the models here), the Republicans would end up with 295 House seats, a gain of 117 seats. My other models show the GOP finishing with 263 seats (+85 seats) or 273 seats (+95 seats) if Gallup is correct. The average of the three models, which I’ve been using for my middle-of-the-forecast, shows a GOP gain of 99 seats to 277 seats if Gallup is correct.

OCT 29 UPDATE! A Republican tsunami! My official election prediction for the House of Representatives.

This prediction has been replaced/updated with this one.

In my first analysis of the election, I forecast a Republican gain of 61 seats in the House.

In my second, I created three more sophisticated models and forecasted a GOP gain of 78 House seats. Each time a new Generic Congressional Poll was released, I updated my forecast in the comment section. I will do so again here.

The following is mostly the same text from Sunday’s post with updated polling data.

First, one must predict the vote totals for each party. Currently, RCP’s average of the “Generic Congressional Vote” shows Republicans winning 48.7% to 42.4%, a decline from Sunday’s 49.3%-41.6% margin. I then remove the polls with highest and lowest spread to eliminate outliers (in this case, I am removing one poll showing Republicans up by 14 and one that shows Democrats up by 3). Excluding those two gives us a much smaller range of +3 to +13, though this is much wider than Sunday’s range of +7 to +11, a small ver 4 point range. Removing the highest and lower outlier, Republicans lead Democrats 49.0% to 41.7%, a narrower spread than last week’s 49.8% to 40.6%. Eliminating the undecideds (if they have not decided by now, they are unlikely to vote) gives a two-party vote total of 54.0% for the Republicans (down from 55.1%) and 46.0% for the Democrats (up from 44.9%).

I now have three models to convert vote totals to House seats.

40-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 1968.

8-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 2002. Because of the increase in partisanship and computerized gerrymandering, there are now many more safe seats.

1994 & 2006 model: In these two mid-term elections, control of the House switched sides against an unpopular President. The same will likely occur this year.

The models produce the following results:

40-year model: Republicans win 257 House seats, gain of 79 seats.

8-year model: Republicans win 241 House seats, gain of 63 seats.

1994 & 2006 model: Republicans win 246 House seats, gain of 68 seats.

Taking a simple average of the three, I now predict the Republicans will win 248 House seats, a gain of 70 seats. On Sunday, I had predicted a gain of 78 seats. So the Generic Congressional Polls moved against the Republicans this week, but only barely.

However, the last poll of the week moved significantly in the GOP’s favor. Individual races, which had been moving against Republicans last week and earlier in this week, have also moved in the GOP’s favor toward the end of the week. I suspect that most of the movement we are seeing is statistical noise and not a change in voters’ opinions. So let’s take an average of my averages over the past week. Doing so, I now predict the GOP will gain 72 seats in the US House of Representatives.

UPDATED! A Republican tsunami? My official election prediction for the House of Representatives.

This prediction has been replaced/updated with this one.

I have added new models to my previous prediction of a Republican gain of 61 seats in the House.

First, one must predict the vote totals for each party. Currently, RCP’s average of the “Generic Congressional Vote” shows Republicans winning 49.3% to 41.6%. However, you clearly see two outliers, one to the upside (Gallup LV Lower Turnout) and one to the downside (Newsweek). Excluding those two gives you a pretty tight pack varying from +7 to +11, a small 4 point range versus the huge 20 point range if you include the two extreme polls. Based on these five closely-packed polls, Republicans lead Democrats 49.8% to 40.6%. Eliminating the undecideds (if they have not decided by now, they are unlikely to vote) gives a two-party vote total of 55.1% for the Republicans and 44.9% for the Democrats.

I now have three models to convert vote totals to House seats.

40-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 1968.

8-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 2002. Because of the increase in partisanship and computerized gerrymandering, there are now many more safe seats.

1994 & 2006 model: In these two mid-term elections, control of the House switched sides against an unpopular President. The same will likely occur this year.

The models produce the following results:

40-year model: Republicans win 268 House seats, gain of 90 seats.

8-year model: Republicans win 247 House seats, gain of 69 seats.

1994 & 2006 model: Republicans win 253 House seats, gain of 75 seats.

Taking a simple average of the three, I now predict the Republicans will win 256 House seats, a gain of 78 seats.

* Again, I will update these numbers as new polls come in. But if you look at the polls on RCP over the last month, Republicans have been consistently in the lead by 8 or 9 points. Barring some late breaking change in this election, I don’t expect these number to change much. But who know how accurate the polling is this year? We won’t know for certain until November 2.

A Republican tsunami? My official election prediction for the House of Representatives.

This prediction has been replaced/updated with this one.

Many, if not most, political analysts are talking about the Republican tsunami due on November 2. According to current projections at FiveThirtyEight, Republicans are expected to capture 7 Senate seats, 50 House seats, 6 Governorships. Analysts are calling this the biggest year since 1994. Michael Barone says it may be even bigger than that:

For months, people have been asking me if this year looks like ’94. My response is that the poll numbers suggest it looks like 1994, when Republicans gained 52 seats in a House of 435 seats. Or perhaps somewhat better for Republicans and worse for Democrats. The Gallup high turnout and low turnout numbers suggest it looks like 1894, when Republicans gained more than 100 seats in a House of approximately 350 seats.

Maybe the results will be closer to Michael Barone’s high-end prediction than RCP and FiveThirtyEight. To betray my political affiliation, as if you didn’t already know, I hope it is. But currently, the polling suggests it won’t be. FiveThirtyEight’s statistical analysis has the Republicans winning 228.4 House seats. RCP hs the Republicans at 235.5 if we give half the Toss Ups to the Republicans. So based on current projections, the Republicans will win 52.5% or 54.1% of all House seats. Currently, the Democrats have 255 House seats or 58.6% of them. For Republicans to match the Democrats’ current position, Republicans would have to win 77 House seat. (Remember, all House seats are up for grabs each two-year election.)

This certainly puts the “tsunami” into perspective. While this election may be called a tsunami based on the number of seats changing hands, I would not call it an outright tsunami when Republicans are not likely to win as many seats in 2010 as Democrats did in 2008.

This tsunami vs. non-tsunami picture can be seen as either good news or bad news for Republicans (and inversely for Democrats).

From the one perspective, it would be very disappointing that the Republicans can only manage 52.5% (FiveThirtyEight) or 54.1% (RCP) of the House seats in a tsunami year. How can the Republicans “fix” Washington and the country when they cannot win the large majorities that the Democrats have been able to?

From another perspective, this may mean that the polls, RCP, and FiveThirtyEight are way off and that some predictions of even larger Republican gains will come true. The generic Congressional polls currently gives the Republicans a 7.2% advantage. However, if you eliminate the three oldest polls in the average, Republicans have a 9.8% advantage. That would imply a Republican vote total of 54.9%. In 2006, the Democrats won 53.6% of the total vote and captured 53.6% of the House seats in an election that switched party control. So, even with the benefits of incumbency, each party should receive the number of House seats equal to its vote total. Therefore, based on the generic Congressional polls, Republicans should win 54.9% of the House seats, giving them 239 seats, a 61 seat gain.

Let’s look at an alternative scenario. What is Gallup’s most Republican-favorable margin of victory plays out? If Republicans do indeed win by seventeen point, they would win 58.5% of the total vote and about the same number of House seat. That would results in 254 Republican seats, a gain of 76 seats. That would be huge, a tsunami as they are saying, but nowhere near the 100 seats Michael Barone said is possible.

Now what if the low end model plays out; the one where Republicans only win by five points? The Republicans would then capture about 228 seat, a gain of 50 seats.

So here is my official prediction for the House of Representatives:

Republicans gain 61 seats and finish with 239 seat, about 55% of the total. This is more than the 50-seat gain predicted at FiveThirtyEight and the 58-seat gain predicted by RCP, but less than some others are talking about. On the low end, I would expect Republicans to win 50 seats. So my low end projection is equal to FiveThirtyEight’s middle-of-the-road projection. On the high end, I think it unlikely that Republicans win more than 76 seats*, much less than some are saying is possible. (I will update this prediction in the comments section as new polls come in.)

* All that said, this election is probably the most difficult to model in years, possibly ever, and the polls and models they are based on are less accurate than most years. The gap between Gallup’s registered voter and likely voter (lower turnout) models is a huge 12 points. Nobody know which model, if any, is the best and therefore the range of possible results this election is huge. But lacking anything better than the current polls and models, I used those.

Stimulus spending: the new perpetual motion machine.

Stimulus spending is like a perpetual motion machine. Sounds great in theory, but it doesn’t work. Just as machines must use up more power than they output, so too stimulus costs more than it produces.

If stimulus spending really creates jobs and improves the economy, the government could just stimulate the economy all the time and we’ll never have recessions or unemployment. We can achieve perpetual motion through big government! Or so they tell us.

Eighty years ago, Ludwig von Mises wrote:

It is obviously futile to attempt to eliminate unemployment by embarking upon a program of public works that would otherwise not have been undertaken. The necessary resources for such projects must be withdrawn by taxes or loans from the application they would otherwise have found. Unemployment in one industry can, in this way, be mitigated only to the extent that it is increased in another. From whichever side we consider interventionism, it becomes evident that this system leads to a result that its originators and advocates did not intend and that, even from their standpoint, it must appear as a senseless, self-defeating, absurd policy.

It is not just economists like Mises that predict the failure of stimulus projects. History predicts it as well.

Stimulus spending didn’t prevent the Great Depression. It didn’t prevent any recession since then. And I have yet to see proof that stimulus spending produced a net economic benefit when the costs of the government programs were weighed against the economic gains, if there were any at all. Which leads us to one of two conclusions: either (1) stimulus spending cannot work or (2) it can work in theory but government is simply incapable of applying the correct amount of stimulus at the correct time.

In reality, stimulus does have some short-term effect. The “cash for clunkers” program boosted auto sales briefly. The tax credit for home purchases boosted home sales briefly. Construction spending from the Recovery Act did help the economy slightly. The census lifted employment for a few months. But all these programs do is borrow from the future. In the case of “cash for clunkers” and home tax credit, it brought future sales into the present. In the cases of jobs programs and construction projects, the government takes money from the future (debt) and spends it today. That leaves the government with less money in the future and it will either need to reduce future spending or raise taxes, either way harming our economic future.

The Keynesian argument is that this stimulus spending during a recession and cutting back in the future will smooth out the volatility of the economy. First, the government is great at the spending during the recession part, but terrible at cutting back during the recovery. Keynes’ idea was to run a budget deficit during recessions and a surplus during booms. Instead, government runs a deficit during booms and an even larger deficit during recessions. Second, the government has no idea how much to spend on stimulus during a recession and when to cut back on that spending. The government can only guess at how deep the recession will be, when it will start, when it will end, and how strong the recovery will be.

But the government will not let economics or history stand in the way of its grandiose ideas. As Stalin used to say, “We are bound by no laws. There are no fortresses which Bolsheviks cannot storm.”

History has proven that stimulus spending does not work, just as the great economists explained. Yet, time and again voters fall for the same trick and beg our “benevolent leaders” in Washington to take our hard-earned money from us to spend for us.

God willing, voters this November will learn to say NO to Washington and the politicians. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!” As those great political thinkers from The Who sang, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Eliminate the Electoral College? The coming tyranny of the majority.

Many states are currently working to eliminate the electoral college and replace it with a straight democratic election of the President. This articles sums up the situation nicely.

Instead of writing new material here, I will quote from my own book, The Path to Tyranny.

On the benefits of the electoral college:

The Founding Fathers saw the benefits of keeping the three branches of government as independent of each other as possible. They therefore created the electoral college to choose the President. Instead of directly electing the President with majority rule or allowing Congress to select the President, each state held a number of “electoral votes” equal to its number of House and Senate seats. Originally, the candidate with the most votes became President and the person with the second most votes became Vice President. After the election of 1800, when no candidate received a majority and it took the House thirty-six ballots to elect Thomas Jefferson, the Twelfth Amendment altered the system so that votes for President and Vice President would be separate. Also in the original system, the electors were chosen by the states and those electors then decided which candidate to vote for. But the people began demanding that the electors vote for a specific candidate, so now the people vote for a Presidential candidate and the electors from each state are pledged to vote for that candidate. This system makes the President totally independent of Congress because they have no say in his election, except in the rare situation in which no person receives a majority of electoral votes, which last occurred in 1824. Additionally, because a candidate becomes President by winning the most electoral votes, even if he does not win a majority of the popular vote, he is somewhat independent of the people, as well. In this way, the President represents the entire country and not Congress, a single state or region, or even the majority of people over the minority.

Replacing the electoral college with a more democratic system is exactly what the Founders hoped to avoid. The Founders created a republic, but we’ve been becoming more democratic with time thanks to the increasing use of ballot initiatives at the state and local levels and with passage of the Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, providing for the direct election of Senators.

Here are some quotes from The Path to Tyranny warning about the evils of democracy:

  • Aristotle calls democracy a perversion of constitutional government in the interest of the needy.[Aristotle, Politics Book 3 Part 7.] In ancient Greece, this democracy often led to tyranny, not just of the majority, but also to tyranny of a single ruler chosen by the majority to lead them.
  • “Now the first of these to come into being is monarchy, its growth being natural and unaided; and next arises kingship derived from monarchy by the aid of art and by the correction of defects. Monarchy first changes into its vicious allied form, tyranny; and next, the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and when the commons inflamed by anger take vengeance on this government for its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the licence and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series.” [Polybius, The Histories 6.4.7-13.]
  • The key, therefore, to maintaining peace, prosperity, freedom, and stable government is to create a system balancing monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, each with checks on the other two. But as power was being distributed downward to the people, Polybius warned that giving the people too much power would result in mob rule followed by a new tyranny: “And hence when by their foolish thirst for reputation they have created among the masses an appetite for gifts and the habit of receiving them, democracy in its turn is abolished and changes into a rule of force and violence. For the people, having grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others, as soon as they find a leader who is enterprising but is excluded from the houses of office by his penury, institute the rule of violence; and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch.”[Polybius, The Histories 6.9.7-9.]
  • The term “tyranny of the majority” originated with Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America. (Tocqueville, Democracy in America 292.) However, Polybius, the Greek historian who lived from 203-120 BC, used the expression “cheirokratia,” loosely translated as “mob rule,” to describe this unlimited direct democracy, arguing that mob rule was a result of “the licence and lawlessness” of democracy. (Polybius, Histories 6.4.9.)
  • This second principle is in many ways a contradiction of his first principle. The first includes “all to rule and be ruled in turn” whereas the second is “to be ruled by none.” The first says “the majority must be supreme” whereas second says “a man should live as he likes.” The first principle leads to the tyranny of the majority whereas the second results in anarchy. It is only by balancing the two principles that a free society can be maintained without falling into tyranny or anarchy.
  • Plato warned about the evils of democracy from its birth to its death. He argues that, from the start, democracy involves killing and exiling its enemies. “And a democracy, I suppose, comes into being when the poor, winning the victory, put to death some of the other party, drive out others, and grant the rest of the citizens an equal share in both citizenship and offices.”[Plato, Republic 557a.]
  • The result of this democratic uprising, Plato argues, is anarchy, mockingly calling democracy “a delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!”[Plato, Republic 558c.] But he contends that the end of democracy is tyranny as demagogues prey on the people’s lust for wealth. “Well, then, the insatiate lust for wealth and the neglect of everything else for the sake of money-making was the cause of its undoing.”[Plato, Republic 562b.] Plato insists that this “climax of popular liberty… is attained in such a city when the purchased slaves, male and female, are no less free than the owners who paid for them.”[Plato, Republic 563b.] “And so the probable outcome of too much freedom is only too much slavery in the individual and the state… from the height of liberty, I take it, the fiercest extreme of servitude.”[Plato, Republic 564a.]
  • The desire for more democracy and larger, more centralized government has turned what once was a laissez-faire representative government into a large interventionist government.
  • The United States was fortunate that its Founding Fathers were so well versed in political philosophy and history. They understood that they had to design a system with checks and balances between the different branches of government and between the states and federal government. They knew that both centralized power and unfettered democracy led to tyranny and hoped to limit the power of government. At the Constitutional Convention, Alexander Hamilton said, “We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.”
  • More than two thousand years ago, the Greeks and Romans wrote about the evils of democracy, as did the Founding Fathers just two hundred years ago. James Madison writes in Federalist No. 10, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Nevertheless, Americans have ignored these warnings and history’s examples. Since the adoption of the Constitution, the United States has trended toward more democracy, exemplified by the direct election of Senators and increased use of referendum and initiative. One effect of this democracy has been the growing demand for the government to provide for the people.
  • The Founding Fathers warned about the evils of democracy. Today the politicians and special interest groups use propositions to trick the voters into constantly growing government. We have to rid ourselves of the democracy in our midst and return to our republican roots.