3 winners in 2020 election contest, and a new challenge

First of all, I overlooked one of the entries to this contest, and it looks like it’s a winner. Mark sent it this entry, which I missed:


Changes to your handicapped picks:

Move from Trump to Biden: Florida, Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

Move from Biden to Trump: -0- (none)

Mark said my 2020 presidential handicapping would have five wrong, and he is right. Mark was also the one who suggested how we would deal with the two states that split their electoral votes: Giving it to the candidate who got the highest number of votes in that state. Good thing he did, because I got one of them wrong. Maine should have been in the Biden column as he got three of the four votes available. I had Nebraska right as Trump got four of the five votes available.

Here’s what I got wrong:

I had these states for Trump. They went to Biden: Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

I had this state for Biden, should have gone to Trump: North Carolina

Besides Mark, we had two other winners, who said I had five wrong:

Don K. 5 wrong:

Biden gets Florida, Maine, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Not Florida.

Paul: 5 wrong.

Biden gets Wisconsin, Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida and Georgia.

Not Florida

So, I have three charities that will receive $100 from me, plus I am going to donate $100 to Seattle Compassion Services since I also had five wrong. Mark, the “Mr. President” champion, was so sure that he would win that he listed his charity with his entry:

My charity is Operation Nightwatch

Fed nonprofit #: https://www.seattlenightwatch.org/about-us/financials/

donation page: 


Don and Paul, what charities do you want to receive $100 from Outobut Polling?

Thank you to the others who participated in this handicapping adventure. Here is a participant medal you can cut out and hang next to your computer.

Also, we are not waiting for Trump tantrums, court cases, recounts, endless rounds of golf before he moves out of the White House. Even the nine jockeys in their black silk robes could not throw out this election. At least, I hope not.

And we have a suggestion for a new assignment from Claudia:

“I have a new assignment for you! I would love to see your cabinet picks. I want to see a diverse cabinet, and I would love to see a female majority. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of picks, but am always open for input and organization 😉

That is a big task. However, I am willing to give it a try. Let’s limit it to those who are in the line of succession and not the ones that have been added by presidents on top of those in the line of succession. The would mean that after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate, these are in the line of succession:

  • Secretary of State, Department of State
  • Secretary of the Treasury, Department of the Treasury
  • Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense
  • Attorney General, Department of Justice
  • Secretary of the Interior, Department of the Interior
  • Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture
  • Secretary of Commerce, Department of Commerce
  • Secretary of Labor, Department of Labor
  • Secretary of Health & Human Services, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary of Housing & Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary of Transportation, Department of Transportation
  • Secretary of Energy, Department of Energy
  • Secretary of Education, Department of Education
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Secretary of Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security

Fifteen Cabinet spots. Prizes to be named later.

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?”


“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.”


“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.

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.

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.