Handicap my handicapping and win $$$ — for your charity

At noon (PDT) on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, I will post my final handicapping on the 2020 presidential election. I will assign 50 states and the District of Columbia and their electoral votes to either President Donald Trump or to former Vice President Joe Biden. You take a look at them and tell me what I got wrong. List my mistakes and tally how many I got wrong.

You have to respond in a comment to my Friday final post before midnight, Monday, Nov. 2 — that is, before election day starts.

When the electoral votes are all counted, we will determine who has correctly — or is closest — to the number of entries I got wrong. That person can name a non-political charity and I will send it $100.

Eric Duechle

If I am perfect (Ha!) and you were all wrong, I will send $100 to Seattle Compassion Services, a group formed by Seattle Seawolves rugby player Eric Duechle to help people who are homeless in Seattle find a place to live.

But before you look at my electoral WAG, please do this: VOTE!

Here’s where I am now in considering the election results:

What was I thinking last night: 308 to 221 Biden

To quote Charlie Rich, “I woke up this morning and realized what I had done.”

Hoping that “my world is not slipping away from me,” I talked to Fred and Kathy, who said I had it all wrong. I was counting words and not listening to what they said. And as Maureen pointed out, Kristen Welker did not have the mic kill button. That was manned by the Debate Commission in a control booth where they must have been conducting a sleep experiment.

Here’s how the morning after crew would arrange the coming votes:

“That was my first exposure to politics, but in a way it wasn’t even politics. An election is a sports event, and I think I really saw it as a ball game then.”

Jerry Rubin, quoted in J. Anthony Lukas’ article in Esquire Nov. 1, 1969: “The Making of a Yippie.”

Debate moderator puts tRump up, 299 to 240

NBC’s Kristen Welker didn’t do much to shut up Dr. Quack tRump in the third and final debate before election day on Nov. 3. Did she have a mic kill button? Did she ever use it? I thought she let tRump ramble on and always gave him the last word on every exchange.

While I don’t think you win debates by saying the most words, there are those who do. And they saw tRump winning the debate. He might have told one lie after another, but there wasn’t anyone there to say they were lies. Except Biden, and he didn’t do that enough.

So Stable Genius rattles off a bunch of numbers, repeats his favorite insults and makes sure he overrides the moderator to put the finishing touches on the end of his rant. Or so I say. The most-words-win person would say he overpowered his opponent and the moderator with words that flowed from his mouth and never gave them a chance.

I moved all the “maybe” votes to tRump, gave Missouri over to the red pile and put South Carolina in that stack as well. I may have moved S.C. earlier. Next I’ll move to Canada.

Biden’s SCOTUS picks: Anita Hill, Merrick Garland

Handicapping the 2020 presidential election based on states and their electoral voters could be like betting on a horse race where the starting gates open and there’s no one there. Or, at least not the runners you had expected. With that kind of a race, the stewards would probably take things into their hands and decide the race themselves. For the presidential race, that could end up looking like this:

That would piss off some of the bettors in the stands – wait, there’s no one in the stands thanks to coronavirus. But to those of us peeking through the fences, it looks as though those wearing the black silks would give the race to a dark horse, like they did in 2000.

Or, Biden might win by a landslide, tRump could slink out the back door of the White House and the winner might think about changing some numbers – like nine on the Supreme Court and 50 states in the United States.

I have become used to nine on the court and the nice even number of 50 states and would hate to see them changed. But it could go a long ways to upsetting the “minority-rules” tactics of Moscow Mitch von Hindenburg McConnell. Right now the Grand Old Peckers represent 153 million of the United States population in the Senate while the “minority” represents 168 million. With Amy Coney Barrett’s ascension to the Supreme Court next week, three of the justices will have been nominated by a president who lost the popular vote by three million votes. W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 but did not nominate his justices (Roberts and Alito) until after John Kerry was Swiftboated in 2004 and Bush won by more than three million votes.

So should Biden pack the court? Put two more chairs on the left side of the bench? Nope, and I don’t see any reason of him to say whether he will or won’t before the election. Run his own campaign and not let the opposition call the shots.

My plan would be for Biden to name his potential Supreme Court replacements before Nov. 3. First on the list: Anita Hill. Biden owes her one. Clarence Thomas and Bret Kavanaugh would flee, and Biden could send in his next sub: Merrick Garland.

When 82-year-old Stephen Breyer retires, Biden would have to supply his own list of replacements, because I have exhausted mine.

So then the handicapping for Kamala Harris in 2024 would look like this:

About 50 states. I like 50. But if you can make Hawaii, a set of islands 2,500 miles from the West Coast, a state, why not Puerto Rico, only 1,800 miles from Florida? And the 700,000 people living in Washington, D.C., ought to get the same representation of the almost 600,000 living in Wyoming. Puerto Rico and D.C. going Democratic? That would be a problem for Mitchie and his gang. So sad.

“Mr. President” game might be better than my handicapping

You never know what might show up when you put something on your blog. For instance, I got a nice note from Mark, a rugby-playing teammate about a game he used to play called “Mr. President.” He’s younger than I (we are both past our prime playing days). But his teens were in the 1970s, and he became quite familiar with games of that era as you can see from what he wrote:

“Made me think of a game I used to play in my teens in the 70’s.

It’s called “Mr. President.” It’s a 3M Bookshelf game.

Using cards to campaign around the states, the two candidates blind balloted them into state slot boxes. Once the campaign ended, the boxes were opened, ballots counted and winner declared.

I no longer own a copy of the game, but I sure learned a bit about the chore a presidential campaign entailed.”

That might be a better way of figuring out who is going to win the 2020 presidential race than my guessing, I mean, handicapping, that I am doing in this blog. Although the game seems somewhat complicated.

The only 3M games that I know is “Facts in Five,” but Mark is a more enthusiastic gamer than I am.

“I was a big-time gamer in me youth. Me & my two brothers and about five neighbor kids would play games over and over, and if they ever got boring because we figured them out, we’d play them oppositely: we’d play them to LOSE. The biggest loser was the winner. 

Playing a game opposite, to lose, does not always work, but it is a fun exercise and keeps your brain on its toes.

There is a published game called “AntiMonopoly,” though I have not played it.

Monopoly was a favorite. We’d link two boards at one of the corners, usually Free Parking, and play a double game in a figure 8. One neighbor had a machine shop and we would create our game pieces on their metal lathe and hand-paint faces on them. Hardcore.

Two neighbors and I got into Avalon-Hill war games. There’s a whole family of them — huge thick cardboard game boards with cardboard armies and armored square pieces (and navy and aircraft pieces, too). These match-ups took 16 or more hours to play the full game. Tricky rules. You make battles with adjacent stacked up units and use a dice or two to figure out the attrition.

I own a few of these still. I assume I’ll never play them again as they take so long to play, and I only have one or two pals who would ever invest the time.

Anyhow, those 3M bookshelf games were different and fun. “Stocks and Bonds” got heavy play. Also “Acquire,” which was about hotel chains. “Quinto” and “Facts in Five” were played, too.

Here’s the full lineup and the history of the 3M line: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3M_bookshelf_game_series

You would enjoy Mr. President. Maybe I’ll search it out and pick it up for “someday” playing.

Truth is, Mr. P and “Stocks and Bonds” would both lend themselves to an online version pretty easily, I think.

There is a vibrant sub-culture in Seattle and most cities of board-game playing that picked up in the last decade or so. Germany is the source of hundreds of new board games, a magnet for designers.

New top games like Settlers of Cattan and Ticket to Ride are doing well, and I have gone through the fad of “Ticket to Ride” with at least a dozen friends and family. TTR lends itself to an online version, which you can purchase for very cheap via the platform Steam. I recommend TTR –there are over a dozen versions with slight rules twists and geography settings beyond the basic USA game.

War games thrived in the 70’s & 80’s, Avalon-Hill even had a club where they would mail you monthly a new game: on a paper board of a historic battlefield with the true-to-life assemblage of army and armored division cardboard units.”

Mark says it’s OK to give out his email, although “the most I can offer is to talk about games, not really looking for play “dates” as I know where to go to find players.”

mark_my_words_again@yahoo.com

Thanks, Mark, for a look inside the gaming world. Now back to deciding if South Carolina really belongs in Biden’s camp.

What if tRump won California? Steady Joe can’t win

October 17, 2020 update: Responding to comments on California going to tRump:

“Not gonna happen!! Biden all the way!”

Moving California back to Steady Joe.

Also this comment:

“Please get your mind right on Arizona. Demographics push it big and blue. I take a $2 punt on it…”

Moving Arizona to Biden, which would give him 279 electoral votes, enough to win even if tRump got all my “maybe” votes:

What if tRump won California? I got an email from someone in that state giving his reasons for why he is voting for tRump. He’s convinced and can’t be dissuaded. Are there enough like him to give California’s 55 electoral votes to the Republicans? This despite it being Kamala Harris’ home state?

Best thing in handicapping is to take all pieces of information into consideration. To not do so would be like thinking you know all about Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania without visiting them. That could turn out badly.

I can never understand why pundits say “he can’t win without” California, Florida, Texas or some other individual state as if all other states are going to line up as expected. That seems as crazy to me as what I am doing here.

However, Steady Joe can’t win without California. If all states did as I have predicted – Ha! – tRump would be over the top with 290 electoral votes, 20 past the 270 needed to win. Even if Biden got all the states I have left under “Maybe,” he would lose 290 to 249.

Can this be right? Biden within 2 electoral votes of winning

The headline here might look as if I have decided to bet on “Steady Wins the Race” Biden, but that is not true. This is just where I am now in my handicapping.

Sticking with my horse-racing analogy (I lost $6 at Emerald Downs today!), the field has just entered the paddock. The announcer has listed the entries’ weights, and there are some jockeys who could have dropped a few more pounds in the sweat box. There’s a ways to go before the starting gates open and the wire is crossed.

We’re gathering information now, leading to our final bet. Listening to the touts, weighing pieces of information, making pencil notes on our Daily Racing Form. These notes may not determine whom you think will win, but they need to be considered.

I’m watching some sticky points as the race approaches. We got some work-out figures that move around how these horses will line up, who’s backing them and whether they will still be there at the finish on Nov. 3.

In relationship to the presidential race, these are preliminary events, but they do influence a betting man’s mind. At least they do mine. Now listed in the past performances (PP) are these primary races:

Missouri? Moving my undecided Missouri electoral votes into the Biden barn. Cori Bush walked straight from the Black Lives Matter protests into the House of Representatives, taking down a 10-term congressman who took over the seat from his father. So long, Clay family, after 50 years. This is only one district in St. Louis and might not say much about the rest of the state and the “independent” farmers banking on government subsidies. But enough of those farmers voted for an expansion of Medicaid to win statewide approval. If you want to see an urban-rural divide look here.

Arizona: Phoenix voters put an 88-year-old, has-been sheriff within 500 votes of someone who does not have Joe Arpaio’s problems (“$147 million in taxpayer-funded legal costs, a failure to investigate more than 400 sex-crime complaints made to the sheriff’s office and launching criminal investigations against judges, politicians and others who were at odds with him,” according to the Associated Press). Those voters probably hadn’t heard of the Democratic Party, whose candidate, Paul Penzone, will hand whoever wins the GOP primary a large defeat in the general election. But those same voters may swing the 11 electoral votes over to Quadruple Bogey tRump.

Michigan, known as That State up North to those of us from Ohio, is edging over to the Steady Joe camp based on Rashida Tlaib winning big time over the president of the Detroit City Council. Big city, big win, maybe a move away from all the wrong-headed things they do up there. We’ll see.

Kansas: Despite the defeat of Kris “No vote or immigrant above suspicion” Kobach there, I’m leaving those six electoral votes in the dung pile outside the barn.

You might say this looks like Biden the Tortoise may win the race, but as a friend from Montana says, “Still too close to be scary.”

P.S. Right now I’m in the same camp as Allan Lichtman, who says that the hardest part of handicapping presidential elections is “keeping your politics out of predictions.” Probably did not do that very well.

Not journalism: Handicapping 2020 presidential race

10/13/2020 update: I’ve been going back and forth on Too-Rye-Ay‘s tip to include Ohio in the Biden stable. But after seeing a video of a tRump rally in Clyde, Ohio, where maddened Buckeyes were going wild in the streets as if the Ohio State football team was running through them instead of black Secret Service SUVs, I moved Ohio back to tRump.

I also had to retype this spreadsheet because it did not come over to my new computer from my old, and very broken, desktop. In doing so, I found South Carolina in the tRump pile. Given that South Carolina put Biden over the top in the primary, it seemed out of place. So with S.C. properly placed in my handicapping formula, that leaves tRump with 224 electoral votes. He’ll need 46 votes from the states I have listed as “maybe.” Biden needs 12 to win the race. For once in my life, I might bet on Michigan and its 16 electoral votes to have Jill Biden and her clean-up crew in the White House to rid it of coronavirus.

Handicapping the 2020 presidential race
Trump Maybe Biden
State and electoral votes State and electoral votes State and electoral votes
Alabama 9 Arizona 11 California 55
Alaska 3 Iowa 6 Colorado 9
Arkansas 6 Michigan 16 Connecticut 7
Florida 29 Missouri 10 Delaware 3
Georgia 16 Maine 4 D.C. 3
Idaho 4 Wisconsin 10 Hawaii 4
Indiana 11 TOTAL 57 Illinois 20
Kansas 6 Maryland 10
Kentucky 8 Massachusetts 11
Louisiana 8 Minnesota 10
Mississippi 6 Nevada 6
Montana 3 New Hampshire 4
Nebraska 5 New Jersey 14
North Carolina 15 New Mexico 5
North Dakota 4 New York 29
Ohio 18 Oregon 7
Oklahoma 7 Pennsylvania 20
Rhode Island 4
South Dakota 3 Vermont 3
Tennessee 11 Virginia 13
Texas 38 Washington 12
Utah 6 South Carolina 9
West Virginia 5
Wyoming 3
TOTAL 224 TOTAL 258

7/30/2020 update: Great tip from Too-Rye-Ay that Ohio should be moved to Biden. Her comments:

Don’t count out Ohio for Biden. Lots of coronavirus here and the stats keep looking like the virus is winning. Also a Speaker of The Ohio House was just indicted for the worst case of racketeering in Ohio history (R). Senator Portman is not glowing in Central Ohio. Many central Ohio schools will be virtual this fall as well as some liberal arts colleges are going virtual. The biggest indicator will be if The Buckeyes will play football. My prediction—no. Oh and The Lincoln Project is running commercials focusing on Ohio. Keep fingers crossed for Democrat win November 2029.”

See updated chart below.

This is not journalism. This is a wild-ass guess at who’s going to win the 2020 presidential race. Like I do each week when I buy a Daily Racing Form and try to make money betting horses. If I bet on them, they lose.

Journalism would be researching, interviewing, using past knowledge to make a determination. This is not journalism.

These are like the pencil notes to myself on the DRF. I haven’t written down my bets yet. I’ll do that as the post time gets closer. But I can hear the “Call to Post,” and I’m willing to listen to anyone who might have a tip or two. Inside knowledge on your home state? Make a comment.

My final bet will be posted on the morning of Nov. 3, 2020. And the popular vote? That doesn’t seem to count anymore when a Republican is in the race. (Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush, Donald tRump)

Handicapping the 2020 presidential race
Trump Maybe Biden
State and electoral votes State and electoral votes State and electoral votes
Alabama 9 Arizona 11 California 55
Alaska 3 Iowa 6 Colorado 9
Arkansas 6 Michigan 16 Connecticut 7
Florida 29 Missouri 10 Delaware 3
Georgia 16 Maine 4 D.C. 3
Idaho 4 Wisconsin 10 Hawaii 4
Indiana 11 TOTAL 57 Illinois 20
Kansas 6 Maryland 10
Kentucky 8 Massachusetts 11
Louisiana 8 Minnesota 10
Mississippi 6 Nevada 6
Montana 3 New Hampshire 4
Nebraska 5 New Jersey 14
North Carolina 15 New Mexico 5
North Dakota 4 New York 29
Oregon 7
Oklahoma 7 Pennsylvania 20
South Carolina 9 Rhode Island 4
South Dakota 3 Vermont 3
Tennessee 11 Virginia 13
Texas 38 Washington 12
Utah 6 Ohio 18
West Virginia 5
Wyoming 3
TOTAL 233 TOTAL 267

Staying, and looking more closely, at home

Pileated head
A pileated woodpecker on one of the “environmental” trees (old and rotting) we have in our yard. Thanks to Jack B. for helping with technical issues on this shot.

Pileated body

We have barely left our home in the past five months. While I have hated to see planned trips to Arkansas, Ohio, Georgia and California go by the way side, I have started looking at our home more closely. Doing the best job on the vegetable garden in years (strawberry-rhubarb jam, raspberry jam and pickled beans stored for the winter as stay-at-home orders continue). And I have tried to photograph some of the nature that happens so close by.

Spider
Not good news for a bee. A goldenrod crab spider eating a bumble bee. Crab spiders don’t spin webs; they hide in blossoms and grab pollinators for their meals.