State of the States: Wyoming

When you think of the perfect state for Donald Trump, Wyoming probably isn’t your first thought, and not just because the state ranks with Delaware on the list of states many Americans forget about when trying to list all the states. But it was his best state in 2016, and there’s no reason to think it won’t be this time.

Why? What makes Wyoming the paragon of Trumpiness? Sure, it’s a very red state. The last time it chose a Democrat was 1964. A Democratic candidate has only done better in Wyoming than nationally twice. And last time was 1916. Hillary Clinton wasn’t going to compete. Still, this was the most red (+48) compared to the country Wyoming has ever been.

Let’s see why Wyoming was and likely remains the perfect storm for Trump’s success: Continue reading “State of the States: Wyoming”

State of the States: Florida

For any Democrats who were still under the illusion this was going to be easy, a new Florida poll from NBC/Marist ended that consideration yesterday. Among likely voters it was a dead heat, 48/48. Immediately, memories of disappointments in 2016 and 2000 returned, along with various statewide contests, most recently the 2018 GOP wins for senator and governor.

Should Democrats panic? Can Joe Biden still win? Does it mattered if he doesn’t? Let’s take a closer look: Continue reading “State of the States: Florida”

State of the States: Hawaii

You haven’t spent much time thinking about who will capture Hawaii’s four electoral votes. Partly because you never think about Hawaii unless you’re planning a vacation. Partly because if you accidentally thought about it in election terms, you quickly remembered Biden will win by a lot.

There’s never been a famous Hawaii caucus or primary. Tulsi Gabbard is the only Hawaiian politician to have run for president. General Election candidates don’t usually campaign there. Most senate campaigns are easily won by the Democrat. Yet, I was very excited about getting to talk about what Hawaii can tell us about the election. Keep reading to see why. Continue reading “State of the States: Hawaii”

State of the States: Michigan

Welcome to the the first of 51 (D.C. has electoral votes too) reviews of the states that are choosing the next president. At various times in American history, the popular vote and electoral vote line up almost precisely. This isn’t one of those occasions. The drama is all on the state by state tabulation side.

We’re starting in Michigan because it was a key surprise component in Trump’s 2016 upset victory, but I’m hoping you find the journey to places like Hawaii and Rhode Island interesting too. No state in the Union has managed to stay only red or only blue throughout it’s history. Today’s sure thing could be up for grabs as soon as the next cycle.

Continue reading “State of the States: Michigan”

Where We’re At

Once upon a time, Labor Day was the official kickoff of the General Election campaign. Candidates would rest up and prep after their conventions, followed by a two month sprint. That sort of calendar is long in the past. Joe Biden won’t be addressing a large Labor Day crowd in Detroit at Cadillac Square, as JFK and many other Democratic nominees did in the past.

It’s likely Biden won’t address a single large crowd at any time this fall. Even Donald Trump has made huge compromises in his preferred methods of campaigning. After the Tulsa embarrassment, he’s not going to try to fill a large arena real soon.

With the virtual conventions drawing less attention than the historical norm (admittedly, conventions already weren’t what they used to be), a limited amount of truly undecided voters, and COVID messing with any and every norm, there are times when it seems the campaign hasn’t started yet.

It’s an odd thought in an era where candidates regularly announce their intentions to run an entire year ahead of the first primary or caucus. Maybe the traditional Labor Day starting gun will fire, and we’ll wake up Tuesday morning feeling like an election is on. Given that early voting is beginning this month in many states, it’s gotta sink in eventually.

So where are we? How likely is Trump to win? Are the polls moving? Is Biden fading? Can we even trust the polls? Will Democrats take Texas? Is Biden going to fall short in his native Pennsylvania? Continue reading “Where We’re At”

A Statement of Intent

If you aren’t Black and the past couple weeks haven’t made you think, at least a bit, about what your responsibilities as a human and an American citizen are, then I’d question what will. I’m at least as guilty as millions of others of keeping my thoughts to myself. In my writing, in my interactions with others whose opinions or stances I couldn’t be sure of. I wasn’t willing to take any risk. Didn’t want to offend, potentially lose business opportunities. Didn’t want to chance having someone ignore some data or evidence they could accept because they got distracted by my tone or opinions.

That ends now. It doesn’t mean you’ll find my writing unrecognizable. I’m not sure if or when I’ll participate in a physical protest. But I’m also not going to pretend I didn’t donate small sums to BLM and Stacy Abrams’ voting rights organization this week. Or that after doing so, I didn’t immediately think, “um, this was nice, but especially given my finances, this isn’t going to be enough of an action plan.” I don’t know what all the appropriate next steps are, and while I hope I’ll continue to take next steps for the rest of my existence, I’m also typing and posting this because I don’t trust myself and need the accountability. Continue reading “A Statement of Intent”

Bye Bye Bernie

He had to leave. There was zero justification for sticking around. We won’t see the Wisconsin results until 4/13, but Joe Biden won. Again. And this was a good 2016 Bernie Sanders state. If you’re mad he’s gone, don’t blame Rona. Yes, his media bandwidth shrunk. But he was set to lose just about everywhere. The postponed primaries would have driven him out if this didn’t. Perhaps the actual exit would have waited until he lost several northeastern primaries originally scheduled for 4/28. Either way, Bernie wasn’t making it to the convention this time.

If you’re virtually or completely mathematically eliminated, but are winning more than a few states here or there, you can remain. That’s how Bernie lingered in 2016, and how Hillary Clinton completed the course of primaries and caucuses in 2008. Super delegates had made it clear each would lose, but why drop out when you are winning about half the time. Bernie went on a long streak in 2016 after the math was against him. I’m too lazy to check, but it was something like 11 out of 12 contests. Hillary, the 2008 Edition, won some big states like Pennsylvania and Ohio after she was doomed.

When they’re competitive, candidates stick around to build leverage, either for when the party comes together to fight the fall campaign, or for future presidential runs. I’m fairly confident Bernie isn’t riding again in 2024. And losing by 20+ points over and over and over again does not build leverage, or a justification to push the nominee in your ideological direction. So he left. This gives us a couple questions. Continue reading “Bye Bye Bernie”

The End of Small Business in America?

Since colonial times, the United States has heavily relied on small business. An independent/family farmer is a small business. Unlike most of the world where the majority of land was held by an aristocracy and most laborers were in their employ or at their command, small, independent landholdings were a huge part of America from the beginning*

Over the past hundred and fifty years, most small independent farms have gone away or been purchased by corporate agribusiness. But as that was happening and millions of Americans were moving to cities, we became a nation of shopkeepers. Sure, millions of others became factory workers, but again millions and millions of Americans were able to have the independence of their own storefront, small manufacturing enterprise, or other entity.

This too began changing. And it wasn’t last week. A hundred years ago, small retailers already worried about the encroachment of regional and national chain stores. Some states even passed legislation to slow their advance. Over the past fifty years, behemoths like Walmart and Amazon have driven small retailers galore out of business. Even if Rona hadn’t visited us, small business was in retreat. For the past decade or so, the rate of new business starts has run below the established level. That counts all new businesses, including tech startups with a very different focus than a traditional small business. If you pull those out, the drop is more pronounced. Continue reading “The End of Small Business in America?”

Employment Apocalypse Now

If you’re reading this, you’ve seen the numbers. Ten million new unemployment filings in a two week period. That moves the national unemployment rate from the mid-3s to about 10%. Bad enough, and historically unprecedented in this short a time. But we’re only part way there. Expect another 8 to 10 million filings in the next two weeks. Many recently unemployed people are still trying to file. States like Florida are just beginning to take the steps others did weeks ago.

Within two weeks, the unemployment rate will reach 17 to 18%. That’s the worst number since 1938. We’ll have gone from about as good as the unemployment number can be (in the 3s) to the post-World War II “hey, there’s a real problem here” number of 10%, to the nobody currently in the job market was alive then 17-18%. Within the realm of historical precedent, there’s only one remaining leap. To approximately 25%, a number seen during the depths of the Great Depression in 1932-33, and (if we trust the ancient data estimates) in the aftermath of the Panic of 1893.

That may take no more than a month. Airlines and chain restaurants, among others, still have more people to lay off. The SBA program for small business payroll assistance is a useful program. Many businesses qualify. It’s set up in a way that will truly help. Except Congress didn’t appropriate enough to help all of the qualifying businesses. Yesterday, Bank of America became the first major institution to launch their portal. It crashed repeatedly. And even so, 6% of the available funds are now already applied for. One day. One institution. One overwhelmed web portal. Continue reading “Employment Apocalypse Now”

A Tale of Four Shortages

We all want to know when things are getting back to normal. Or failing at that, a new acceptable reality. I strongly believe there are four, and only four measures that truly matter. It’s not the amount of cases, or increase/decrease. Nor is it the death rate, or amount of total deaths. That’s not to minimize these things. A death is a huge deal. Even more so if you know the person who passed. I’ve read many obituaries of COVID-19 victims, and it’s hard not to feel a real sense of loss.

But cases and deaths are outcomes, not causes. And even if those numbers improve dramatically, we can’t be sure there won’t be a resurgence of doom in the fall/winter. By most estimates, a reliable, tested vaccine is 12 to 18 months away. Should things in America, Western Europe, and other currently afflicted regions return mostly to normal over the summer, we’ll still have a strong sense of unease. Unless we solve three shortages. Fixing these will then cure the fourth.

Masks/other PPEs

Ventilators

Tests

Toilet Paper

Fixing the mask (and when I refer to mask, I really mean all of the commonly used Personal Protective Equipment pieces) shortage is both really easy and really hard. Ramping up is far easier than we’re making it look. There’s a good argument that part of the problem is how many ways more could get manufactured. There’s a whole industrial base that’s otherwise shut down or immobilized right now. There’s 3D printing. There’s the thousands of people who are already crafting masks at home. Continue reading “A Tale of Four Shortages”