My new company, Outobut Polling, mostly got it right

Not calling a winner yet in my charity presidential handicapping exercise, but my new polling company should take over the business of all the polls that got it wrong. So far, my Outobut Polling looks like it got it wrong on the states that split their electoral votes (should have listened to Mark) and I may have Wisconsin and North Carolina in the wrong columns.

Waiting for recounts, court challenges, raids on Post Offices that held up ballots, civil war and other inconveniences before I name a winner and donate $100 to a non-political charity of their choice. Look for updates.

Despite what my Ohio friends say, Trump gets the Buckeye state

Ohio friends and family can’t understand why I am keeping the Buckeye State in the electoral vote stack for Donald Trump in my handicapping of today’s presidential vote. And it may be that I am stuck in the past.

Born there, spent my first 20 years there and I can’t get over living in a congressional district that was Republican for more than 70 years, many of the representatives from the same family. So that has influenced where I think Ohio should go politically.

But I have listened to those living in Ohio and have read this book, trying to understand Ohio, and as the title says, the rest of America:

“Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America.”

Written by David Giffels, a former columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal, the book came out this year, which might give it a short shelf life if it is only used to figure out the Trump-Biden election. But maybe people will read it to figure out what happens in the days, weeks and months ahead as we determine who won and how the nation will deal with that decision.

Giffels makes the point that you can’t ignore Ohio when trying to handicap who will win today’s election, as I have been doing the past few weeks. “Since 1896, Ohio’s voters have sided with the winner in twenty-nine of thirty-one presidential elections,” he writes. “No state has a higher percentage of accuracy. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. We are the only state to have a perfect record choosing the victor since 1964.”

My handicapping has Biden winning by one electoral vote (see chart below), which means I’m betting against Ohio. However, Giffels never comes down firmly for either the Democrats or the Republicans. He never says this candidate (Trump or Biden) will win. I think Giffels moves a bit toward Trump, but my final bet is on Biden to win it all despite where Ohio ends up.

As far as the second part of the book’s title — To Understand America – the book goes a long way in figuring out what we are all about in 2020. Closing auto factories in Lordstown, Ohio, even though Trump in 2017 said manufacturing jobs were “all coming back”? Reminds me of the jobs lost as Boeing shuts down operations in Washington State. Manufacturing jobs in many parts of the country aren’t coming back. That might mean a landslide against Trump. But UAW Local 1112 president David Green in Lordstown doesn’t quite see it that way. Trump will get some votes, but not “as many votes in this valley as he did then (2016), for sure.”

Soybean farmers hurt by Trump’s tariffs? Those tariffs also applied to apples, cherries and hay in Washington and to commodities grown in many states. Would a stubborn farmer abandon Trump? “I believe people in his cabinet understand the (farmers’) situation,” Giffels quotes a sixth-generation family farmer.

Malls and downtowns abandoned? That’s not just an Ohio problem, and the resurrection of downtowns — when it happens — means building what we expect America to look like, and that’s not Walmart. But will the breweries, bookstores, quaint antique shops and coffee bars replace the lost manufacturing jobs? And will Amazon come along quickly enough to buy your local empty mall and turn it into a “fulfillment center”? If enough people who fled years ago come back to run those boutique shops and Amazon warehouses, will that be enough to swing things Democratic? Or will Trump’s “law and order” litany to save downtowns keep things in his column?

Looking at all these issues, Giffels seems to find Ohio voters who chose Trump in 2016 and don’t seem likely to change their vote today. Maybe that’s because of Jim Traficant, who inured Ohio to a demagogue. The name was familiar to me as just another congressman who went to jail, but his antics might have been the ones that eased Ohio into Trump’s camp in 2016, and maybe 2020. Giffels quotes USA Today in 2016: “If Trump wins Ohio, he should thank Jim Traficant, who wrote the roadmap.” When on trial for racketeering, he offered an outlandish defense of “deny, deny, deny” what he had already confessed to that no one could believe except for the 12 men on the jury, who found him not guilty. From sheriff to congressman, “his greatest political talent was his ability to convince a marginalized constituency that he understood and cared about them in ways his opponent did not.” Later convicted on charges of racketeering, fraud, bribery and other corruption charges, he spent seven years in prison and died in 2014 when a tractor on his farm rolled over him.

All parts of America have marginalized people, but they don’t have Jim Traficant. Or they didn’t. A “Traficant” can come from anywhere, like New York City, to win an election and maybe a re-election.

Giffels never quite gets to that conclusion, no Trump wins, no Biden takes Ohio and the nation. What he does conclude is that Americans have reached a “crisis of empathy.”

“. . . whenever I talked to a Trump supporter, that person’s own certainty convinced me at least for the duration of the dialogue that he (Trump) would win a second term, and whenever I talked to an anti-Trump Ohioan, they expressed concern that I was right, even as they couldn’t conceive this happening again. To know people who voted for Donald Trump and not be able to comprehend how anyone could do such a thing is to confront the fact of our divide: a nation of people who cannot understand one another and who are losing reasons and opportunities to do so.”

A depressing place to end, but Giffels doesn’t. Instead, he turns to the buzzards at Hinckley, something I had forgotten in my 50 years outside of Ohio. Maybe they still do this, but in the 1960s, radio stations would announce when the buzzards where coming back to Hinckley, Ohio, sort of like the swallows of Capistrano. I never heard a reason for why the birds came to Hinckley and why on a certain date. Not until I read Giffels’ book. It seems that on Christmas Eve 1818, more than 500 men held a game drive, pushing all wildlife into a shrinking circle, killing 21 bears, 17 wolves, 300 deer and uncounted squirrels, turkeys, foxes, raccoons, etc. The men built fires, barbequed, bundled up some meat and went home, leaving the rest to rot. In the spring, the buzzards came, and they’ve been coming back ever since, looking for something they still believe is there.

What will we come looking for as we return in our four-year cycle? Strife that the other side won? Or will we get a start on ending our crisis of empathy? I’m not taking bets on that.

“You can’t go into Youngstown, Ohio, and tell everybody they’re going to be retrained and go work for Google or Apple. “

Michael Avenatti

Dealing with election troubles from Maine, Nebraska and Mark

Benefit a charity of your choice by handing in by midnight today your list of how screwed up my presidential election handicapping is. Check my final electoral vote, list the number of my mistakes and what states I got wrong. Send your entry in a comment to this post.

Once all the electoral votes are counted – who knows when? – I will donate $100 to a non-political charity of your choice to the person who identifies or comes closest to the number of states I got wrong.

If I am perfect,  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.

So your entry could look like this:

“4 incorrect: Ohio, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. What were you thinking?”

Or,

“4 incorrect: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina and Nevada. Proud Boys coming for you.”

I won’t post the entries until Tuesday morning because I don’t want to give away any secret knowledge some of you may have. But I will share some of the comments I have received so far in emails and on different posts on Facebook.

Let’s start with Mark, who always was a troublemaker on and off the rugby pitch and learned his politics through “Mr. President”:

Hey John-

to give you something to do today,

you’ll wanna think about a hitch in your pick chart.

Maine & Nebraska – will very possibly be split electoral votes.

Maine has 4 in total, Nebraska has 5 in total.

Maine has 2 distinct electoral voting districts plus another 2 electoral votes based on total popular vote. Me2 is a tossup, but the other 3 electoral votes are likely Biden’s.

Nebraska has 3 distinct districts, each gets one electoral vote plus another 2 votes based on total popular vote. Ne2 will likely go to Biden, the other 4 to trump.

I think it fair for you to give the win to whoever picks and gets a majority of those two states’ electoral votes. (Ed. Note: Which is what we will do.)

Maybe not important to clarify that ahead of time.

(more comments below)

And from Chris:

John Boy – I appreciate the effort and thought that went into your analysis and tally. (Ed. Note: Effort and thought?) I am tempted to say it looks and then have horrifying flashbacks to the last election when I, like most everyone, was convinced that Hillary was a shoe in only to be gobsmacked by the outcome. With that in mind . . . I say Florida needs to come off your board as they seem deeply committed to screwing up every election and have some deeply incompetent republicans running the state and Texas goes into the maybe category. The voter suppression campaign that the republicans are running there is breathtaking in its scope and obvious intent. With an all republican state supreme court it will all be found to be legal . . . and thus my assessment. There will be a huge blue wave in Texas but it will likely crash on the rocks of the voter suppression. The republicans today filed suit to toss out over 120k ballots

(Updated here: https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/11/02/us/trump-vs-biden?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage#a-federal-judge-denies-a-bid-by-texas-republicans-to-throw-out-more-than-127000-votes)

that were cast in drive in voting as they think the counties went beyond the law to permit it. You see if you think the virus is a hoax then there is no need for drive through voting . . . you can just risk your life and do it in person!!!!

And Lee is still trying to convince me that Ohio can go to Biden:

As your classmate of 1966, (Ed. Note: Go, Tigers!), and lifelong adult resident of Franklin County, Ohio, COVID-19 will be what is at stake for the urban and suburban areas, even in the wealthy suburbs. In 2016, I saw tons of Trump signs in the wealthy suburbs. This year, yard signs for Trump are few and far between throughout Central Ohio. Yard signs alone are not strong enough evidence to predict a race. Hoping that the believers in science and the incredible losses so many Ohioans have and will endure, the better angels will prevail.

But Pam writes:

All I see in NW Ohio is Trump signs and flags EVERYWHERE!!!

😩

Speaking of signs. . .  here’s one in my neighborhood:

My final answer. Get your charity in line for my donation

Here’s my final handicapping of the 2020 presidential election. Remember my offer: I will donate $100 to a non-political charity of your choice if you come closest to identifying what I got wrong.

Here are the 50 states and the District of Columbia and their electoral votes that I expect to go to either President Donald Trump or to former Vice President Joe Biden. Take a look at them and tell me what I got wrong. List my mistakes and tally how many I had incorrectly.

You have to respond in a comment to this post before midnight (PST), Monday, Nov. 2. That is, before election day starts here in Seattle.

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.

If I am perfect,  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.

Let’s talk about this: “When the electoral votes are all counted.”

That could be some time in the future – after a civil war some people are predicting, after the Supreme Court has its way with the election results or if the Congress gets in the way. The winner of this election will not be formally known until Jan. 3, 2021, according to the Pew Study linked above – and here: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/10/22/election-night-marks-the-end-of-one-phase-of-campaign-2020-and-the-start-of-another/ (Thanks to Drew DeSilver, a Seattle Times alum, for a clear explanation of the U.S. presidential election process.)

We may have to wait until then to send the money to the chosen charity, but I hope not. And no matter what war, the courts or the Congress do on this election, the winner here will be based on the assigned electoral votes to each state. So your answer could be:

“4 incorrect: Ohio, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. What were you thinking? Dated, July 15, 2025.”

Or,

“4 incorrect: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina and Nevada. You’re under arrest. Jan. 4, 2021.”

Find my mistakes, win $$$ for your charity

By noon Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, I will post my final handicapping of the 2020 presidential election. And then it is your turn to see what I got wrong and win some money for your non-political charity.

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. Take a look at them and tell me what I got wrong. List my mistakes and tally how many I had incorrectly.

You have to respond in a comment to my Friday final post before midnight (PST), Monday, Nov. 2. That is, before election day starts here in Seattle — although those on the East Coast will be three hours into election day.

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.

If I am perfect,  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.

Taking into consideration what people have told me in the past day, this is the latest tally — Texas back to Trump, Ohio goes to Biden.