Friday, December 23, 2016

This Is Not Normal: Dealing With Reality

I still have mornings where I forget it happened. I prepare for my day and expect to hear the news about the latest thing the President is doing, or not doing, and the weather. I usually turn on a POD Cast (I'm addicted, it's a thing) and go about my morning. Then I remember what happened on that November night. 

The Cubs and Indians had played through an unbelievably long - Historically long? - regular season, something like 300 games including the first round of the playoffs, and then had taken the World Series all the way down to the wire. Game 7, extra innings. 

The Cubs weren't supposed to win. Not historically, any way. Sure, if you asked a Cubs fan about it they'd tell you the Cubs were always going to win, no doubt about it. But, c'mon... those people watch nothing but Cubs broadcasts and only listen to Cubs radio. Of course they thought that. For so many years that's just been fake news, surely it wasn't carrying any reality now.

As a Cardinals fan the very idea of the Cubs winning hurt. I watched with a pit in my stomach as the night wore on. The Cubs jumped out to a quick lead in Game 7 and at the midway point - for the sake of this let's pretend baseball games actually have a midway point - the Cubs were up 6-3. Innings results kept coming in, and the analysts kept making calls, explaining all the scenarios left for Cleveland to win. Suddenly, as a Cards fan I began rooting for the Cleveland Indians. Not because I was in love with them, I was not at all. But, they weren't the Cubs and in that moment that was enough for me. Because, man... f*** the Cubs.

The Cubs aren't supposed to win. It upsets the natural order in Baseball. It creates unpredictable moves in the offseason. It throws the inter-league balance of power into question across Major League Baseball. Who knows how the Cubs will behave now that they have the trophy, the win, the power, the prestige. They told us almost two years ago they were going to win the World Series. When the season started everyone thought it was going to be something special to watch them try, but it was an even year so naturally the Giants had it in the bag, the Cubs might have their year but 2016 was NOT supposed to be the year the Cubs won it all.

Since that victory I've been searching for answers to questions that linger like ghosts in my mind. Why? How? And, who's to blame? Were we just that blind to the reality? Did we not think that the Cubs fans would get out to the games and cheer loudly enough? OF COURSE THEY DID. 

The Cubs fans were hungry. They'd been told for years how wrong they were. Remember Steve Bartman in 2003? He was the clear sign that the Cubs, no matter how powerful they may have been in the past, were never going to get back to the place they had once enjoyed. It was a league of diverse winners now. Well, sort of, I mean, if you're a Red Sox, Cardinals, or Giants fan it's been pretty diverse. (Seriously, the Cardinals won a series with Ronnie Belliard at second base.)

Yet, there it was, 6-6 in the 10th inning. I sat on the couch. Quietly considering what it would mean if the Cubs really did win. Trying to understand how it could happen. Surely Cleveland, the heart of Ohio, would come through and deliver, even if it was close, right? Then it happened. 

He happened.

Ben Zoberist. A double, then a single, and there it was. Final score: 8-7. Naturally if you ask a Cubs fan it wasn't a close game, it was a blowout victory for the Cubs of historical magnitude great enough to grant the Cubs all encompassing power for at least four years. The box score suggests something, well, different, but if the Cardinals of the 1930's could be the “Gas House Gang” then the Cubs of the 20...teens? (2010's? Not sure how to write that one) can be the “Gas Lighting Gang” so that their razor thin margin of victory feels like an all-time great blowout win.

I keep saying it, over and over: “This is not normal.” It isn't. The Cubs aren't supposed to be the Champs. We had all moved on from such hurtful and divisive ideals. At least, that's what I thought. No matter how many times I say it “This is not normal!” or who I say it to, or how many social media platforms I say it on, the Cubs still exist as the World Series Champs of 2016. I'm learning to live in reality, slowly.


All I can do now is double my effort, cheer for the Cardinals so freaking hard in 2017, and hope we can convince enough Cubs players (Dexter Fowler come on down!) that winning with the Cubs was actually not such a good thing and that winning with the Cardinals would be better. I have hope, and I know that when the Cardinals open the season in 2017 and the media asks “Do you think you can beat the Cubs and win the division this year?” the manager, Mike Matheny - with his fresh contract extension - will say clearly, and for all to hear: “Yes we can.”



Adam Sommer

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Final Countdown: Predicting Electoral Outcomes for 2016



I was going to do a series of these, but... let's face it, the drama is pretty much over. Emails, Sexual Assault suits, Taxes, it's all so yesterday. Let's vote.


2016 has been a long “year” of Presidential politics. Starting in 2008 when Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic Primary to Barry-O and buried her acceptance speech in a coffee can in the back yard with the marker reading “Do not dig up until November 8, 2016. THIS MEANS YOU, BILL!” 

There have been twists. There have been turns.

Mitt Romney was a thing. Jeb Bush unveiled one of the worst logo's of all time with JEB! (Seriously it was so bad Kanye didn't even interrupt, he just let it happen.) Chris Christie was serious for a while, then he hugged Obama on a bridge – at least that's my memory – before appearing in a Donald Trump hostage video. Paul Ryan damn near made it out of the cycle without ruining his future, then he decided to go ahead and try this past summer and seems to have succeeded this fall in solidifying his place as just another GOP member without a spine.

Marco Rubio is officially the biggest joke in the GOP “Presidential candidate” pool. Even if a bet on Rubio paid at 100:1 I wouldn't bet a single red cent on him. Rand Paul probably killed his Libertarian credibility, the Libertarian's probably killed their own (seriously, you have to know where places are to be President, it's like a base line thing) and Bernie Sanders went from being a guy you've literally never heard of before to being the only politician to leave 2016 doing better than he came in. Oh, and the Democrats appear to be almost totally devoid of any solid young leadership for 2020's cycle.

Got all that?

At the end, we wind up with our two main party choices. Yes, there are third party options at play here, and yes they will matter to a certain extent, but there are only two people that will be capable of winning enough electoral votes to be the next President of the United States. Like it, or not, we will wind up with Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I'm sorry, it's just that sometimes grownups have their own problems, and it doesn't mean you did anything wrong...

With that in mind I have done a State by State prediction and finally tally. To do this I'm using polling averages from Real Clear Politics that include both State and National polling data, and also a few doses of my “horse sense” – a real thing, google it – on this stuff. I'm listing the States from east to west, since that's the order we usually hear about their results, even though there are several (California, Wyoming, etc.) that we could predict without any data at whatsoever. Here we go, my final final predictions!



EAST COAST REGION

Maine – Clinton 3, Trump 1. Maine has the ability to split their congressional district votes, so Trump picks up a vote here he otherwise would not receive.

New Hampshire – Clinton 4. They usually vote for the winner. I won't be shocked by a Trump victory here, but I'm not betting on it. Plus, it likely has no impact on the outcome either way.

Vermont – Clinton 3. They get to vote as well, and it's a super progressive State.

Massachusetts – Clinton 11. Tom Brady only gets to vote one time. Sorry Donald.

Rhode Island – Clinton 4. I suspect it doesn't take long to count their votes compared to the rest of the country.

Connecticut – Clinton 7. Another state that tends to vote Democrat and that I know very little about aside from their stellar NCAA basketball programs.

New Jersey – Clinton 14. Any help Christie may have been to the GOP here is stuck in traffic.

Delaware – Clinton 3. I assume the state is beautiful in the fall...

Maryland – Clinton 10. Steady as she goes, Maryland has been blue for a while.

District of Columbia – Clinton 3. D.C. is about as blue a region as you will find.

New York – Clinton 29. The first big state off the board. Trump may be from the state, but that may not be quite as good for him as he thinks. Clinton wins big here.


SO FAR that's Clinton – 91 v. Trump – 1 (Alternatively if Trump wins New Hampshire 87 v. 5).


Deep breath...


RUST BELT/S.E.C. REGION

Pennsylvania – Clinton 20. The Keystone state is a “home” of sorts for Clinton, and will be the first true death nail for Trump on election night. It will likely be called earlier than usual, and be won by Clinton handily.

West Virginia – Trump 5. I'm not even sure they put the Democratic nominee on the ballot there.

Virginia – Clinton 13. Tim Kaine isn't just a pretty face. He will deliver his home state and the second nail in the Trump Candidacy's coffin.

Ohio – Trump 18. It may take a while to get this result. In 2008 Ohio went blue before 10:30 p.m. central time, and the election was over. In 2016 it is close, and will be close, and I see Trump being able to carry it by just enough. It will be the glimmer of hope for the Trump camp as the night wears on.

North Carolina – Clinton 15. As the Trump Campaign worries about the vote being rigged the actual voters in North Carolina will be delivering a truly fatal blow to the GOP's hopes of taking back the White House. Once North Carolina is called for Clinton, the election is basically done.

South Carolina – Trump 9. I could be wrong on this one, Clinton could pull it out here, but it seems more likely that Trump carries it. Not that it matters.

Georgia – Trump 16. This is the cool and edgy pick for an upset for Clinton, but I just don't see it.

Florida – Clinton 29. Hear that? It's the sound of Marco Rubio guzzling water from the tiniest bottle you've ever seen. Why? He might be losing too...

UPDATED TOTALS have it at Clinton 168 v. Trump 49 (Or 164 v. 53) at this point. Clinton needs 106.


Ok, it's about 10:30 p.m. central time... maybe even earlier... it's about to be over.


SPEED ROUND

Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana – Trump 45. No drama here, also not many electoral votes considering how far behind he'll be at this point.

Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota – Clinton 56. In a five to four split here Clinton increases her lead by 11 electoral votes.

TOTALS: Clinton 224 v. Trump 94 (Or 220 v. 98) at this point. Clinton needs 46. Trump needs 172. Only 219 electoral votes remain. From this point on Trump must win 78.5% of all remaining vote, which means if Clinton can win 47 or more the race is over. 















California is worth 55.




Continuing on...


THE MIDWEST(ish)

Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota – Trump 49 more electoral votes, bringing him up to 143 total.

Nebraska – Trump 4 and Clinton 1. Just like Maine, Nebraska has the ability to split things up, and they just might do it this year.


THE REST OF TRUMP'S STATE WINS

Texas, Wyoming, Utah*, Idaho, Montana, Alaska – Trump 57, and bringing his grand total up to 204 electoral votes, or 66 votes shy of a victory.

*Utah could be won by a third party candidate, but still won't be a Clinton win.


THE REST OF CLINTON'S STATE WINS

New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii – Clinton 98, bringing her grand total up to 324 electoral votes, 54 votes above the margin for victory.

That leaves Arizona and it's 11 votes in the cold, so to speak. It's likely – highly likely – Trump wins there, but in the last few weeks Arizona has become a prize of sorts for the Democrats in 2016. Arizona isn't in play this year, but the fact that it's even a conversation is an interesting development.

Our final tally is: Clinton 324 v. Trump 214. (Or 320 v. 218. See, I told you New Hampshire wouldn't matter.) Here is the map: 2016 Electoral Map


THINGS TO LOOK FOR
Pennsylvania is the real key to this election. If we don't have confirmation of a Clinton victory before 10:00 p.m. central time in Pennsylvania, things could get interesting. But, assuming Clinton carries Pennsylvania then much of the other states begin to matter less and less. As an example, she won't need North Carolina, Florida, or Colorado to win. Like, at all. She would win 270 to 269, which would be less than ideal for people looking to move past the Trump claims of a rigged system, but the win would count all the same.


BOLD STRATEGY COTTON...
I think the race will end with Clinton at 340+ electoral votes. The real argument against this is that Trump's voters are the silent group, but I don't think that's the case. I think there are an increasing number of people that will vote third party, or for Clinton, that are usually Republican voters and that this will happen in large enough numbers that Clinton wins a few surprise states. Look out for Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, and Arkansas. I don't see any of those as “likely” wins for Clinton, but all are worth watching just to see what happens. Stranger things have happened.

Come November 9, 2016 we will have a new President Elect. The question now is whether or not the transition will be peaceful as in the past. For our Country's sake, I hope it is.



- Adam Sommer

Updated November 3rd, 2016 to include a link to www.realclearpolitics.com for polling data source.