Donald Trump has won, so we have another round of stories about polling shortcomings, though thankfully it’s someone else’s country this time round (this is very much a personal take from across an ocean – the Yougov American and British teams are quite separate, so I have no insider angle on the YouGov American polls to offer).

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about whether there was potential for the US polls to suffer the same sort of polling mishap as Britain had experienced in 2015. It now looks as if they have. The US polling industry actually has a very good record of accuracy – they obviously have a lot more contests to poll, a lot more information to hand (and probably a lot more money!), but nevertheless – if you put aside the 2000 exit poll, you have to go back to 1948 to find a complete polling catastrophe in the US. That expectation of accuracy means they’ll probably face a lot of flak in the days ahead.

We in Britain have, shall I say, more recent experience of the art of being wrong, so here’s what insight I can offer. First the Brexit comparison. I fear this will be almost universal over the next few weeks, but when it comes to polling it is questionable:

  • In the case of Brexit, the polling picture was mixed. Put crudely, telephone polls showed a clear lead for Remain, online polls showed a tight race, with leave often ahead. Our media expected Remain to win and wrongly focused only on those polls that agreed with them, leading to a false narrative of a clear Remain lead, rather than a close run thing. Some polls were wrong, but the perception that they were all off is wrong – it was a failure of interpretation.
  • In the case of the USA, the polling picture was not really mixed. With the exception of the outlying USC Dornslife/LA Times poll all the polls tended to show a picture of Clinton leading, backed up by state polls also showing Clinton leads consistent with the national polls. People were quite right to interpret the polls as showing Clinton heading towards victory… it was the polls themselves that were wrong.

How wrong were they? As I write, it looks as if Hillary Clinton will actually get the most votes, but lose in the Electoral College. In that sense, the national polls were not wrong when they showed Clinton ahead, she really was. It’s one of the most fustrating situations to be in as a pollster, those times when statistically you are correct… but your figures have told the wrong narrative, so everyone thinks you are wrong. That doesn’t get the American pollsters off the hook though: the final polls were clustered around a 4 point lead for Clinton, when in reality it looks about 1 point. More importantly, the state polls were often way out, polls had Ohio as a tight race when Trump stomped it by 8 points. All the polls in Wisconsin had Clinton clearly ahead; Trump won. Polls in Minnesota were showing Clinton leads of 5-10 points, it ended up on a knife edge. Clearly something went deeply wrong here.

Putting aside exactly how comparable the Brexit polls and the Trump polls are, there are some potential lessons in terms of polling methodology. I am no expert in US polling, so I’ll leave it to others more knowledgable than I to dig through the entrails of the election polls. However, based on my experiences of recent mishaps in British polling, there are a couple of places I would certainly start looking.

One is turnout modelling – US pollsters often approach turnout in a very different way how British pollsters traditionally did it. We’ve always relied on weighting to the profile of the whole population and asking people if they are likely to vote. US pollsters have access to far more information on which people actually do vote, allowing they to weight their samples to the profile of actual voters in a state. This has helped the normally good record of US pollsters… but carries a potential risk if the type of people who vote changes, if there is an unexpected increase in turnout among demographics who don’t usually vote. This was one of the ways British pollsters did get burnt over Brexit. After getting the 2015 election wrong lots of British companies experimented with a more US-style approach, modelling turnout on the basis of people’s demographics. Those companies then faced problems when there was unexpectedly high turnout from more working-class, less well-educated voters at the referendum. Luckily for US pollsters, the relatively easy availability of data on who voted means they should be able to rule this in or out quite easily.

The second is sampling. The inquiry into our general election polling error in 2015 found that unrepresentative samples were the core of the problem, and I can well imagine that this is a problem that risks affecting pollsters anywhere. Across the world landline penetration is falling, response rates are falling and it seems likely that the dwindling number of people still willing to take part in polls are ever more unrepresentative. In this country our samples seemed to be skewed towards people who were too educated, who paid too much attention to politics, followed the news agenda and the political media too closely. We under-represented those with little interest in politics, and several UK pollsters have since started sampling and weighting by that to try and address the issue. Were the US pollsters to suffer a similar problem one can easily imagine how it could result in polls under-representing Donald Trump’s support. If that does end up being the case, the question will be what US pollsters do to address the issue.

1,352 Responses to “Why were the US polls wrong?”

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  1. Interesting snippet on the presidential election:

    Maybe the Democrats were so desperate to win that they cheated with the help of illegal immigrants – and they still lost!

  2. Tancred

    Maybe not the most reliable of sources!

    I know voter suppression was common in many states but “On the morning of the election there were 4 million dead people on U.S. voter rolls.” would suggest that the tactic was being taken a little too far! :-)

  3. Socalliberal,
    From your description I would rather expect Trump will be coming for your voters, if he isnt there already. Sounds as though California has the same makings of the Trump win. I got the impression the democrats did better than ever in California, but maybe it is as you described before, merely republicans going for Clinton as being more of a typical republican than Trump. Is there any evidence of turnaround in democrat californian voters, rep voting Clinton and dem voting Trump?

  4. Colin,
    “It is really interesting to watch this now with hindsight.
    Would Sanders have beaten Trump-with the same message?”
    I have seen over documentaries saying exactly the same thing, but yes, its why trump won. The reporter was right in observing Trump-Clinton would get messy, but the evidence since the election is of some sanity returning to the candidates. It remaisn to be seen whether Trump will do what he promised and his voters wanted, change the rules to limit feee trade.

    Does Warren stand for repatriating industry to the US? For that matter I guess does Sanders? The key Trump message was to stop the flight of industry abroad?

    “People interested in Brexit might like to look at the following. I don]t think it makes happy reading for people from any position”
    It seems to suggest labours best startegy is to opose Brexit much more and prepare to go heavily in favour of remain if opinion goes that way.

  5. andrew111

    A second referendum has not been thought through.Just as May has been attacked for Brexit means Brexit how can remain mean remain.

    What does Remain mean? does it mean on pre cameron cameron terms, free movement of labour or new EU terms imposed upon us after irrevocable A50?
    surely the electorate cannot be left with a simple remain option without the terms of the remain.
    Perhaps there ought to be a third referendum about the terms of the remain?

  6. No one seems to be playing PETE B’s game.
    I would be a 3.

  7. @Neil A
    Your restaurant analogy is somewhat flawed.

    Our diner (Boris) has gone into a restaurant (EU) that displays a clear fixed price menu and declared that he wants to eat ‘A la carte’ – he wants the Duck but with the side that goes with the fish, a starter that is not on the menu, and by the way he’d like a rebate on the fixed price menu price as well.

    So far all that the waiters (EU foreign ministers) have said – repeatedly – is that the menu is the menu, let us know when you have decided what you want to eat from it…

  8. NeilA & Pete B

    Admittedly few votes cast in Pete’s poll but you look reasonably correct so far Neil.


  9. The other Howard,
    “Since we have not negotiated yet I think “hard and soft brexit” rather meaningless terms. We do not know where the balance of advantage will lie when we start negotiating so it is difficult to speculate what the result might be, if any of the negotiation.”

    Now here is a fundamental difference which I and I expect many have. I dont think hard and soft Brexit are unclear. There has been a lot of discussion of detail since the referendum, which no voters were aware of beforehand. However, leave made it clear, or maybe made it unclear, that the two basic alternatives were ‘norway’, remaining a full trade partner within the EU system, or complete departure. The consensus was that these were the two possible outcomes.

    Since the referendum there has been a lot of speculation about whether in fact the EU will give better deals than this, and plainly this is propaganda from the leave side, essentially arguing that everything should go ahead and there is a realistic possibility of a dream outcome for the Uk containing full access and excluding free movement.

    The EU has never given any reason to suggest it will compromise on its standard rules. I see no political or economic logic why it would. The balance of advantage will be wholly against the UK once the 2 year clock has started, and the most likely outcome if no free movement is insisted upon, will be no trade access either.

    There is no clear mandate to leave. Whatever arguments are made about legitimacy of the vote, this is the fact, and it is born out by the latest Curtis poll mentioned above. From the perspective of parties therefore, it has come down to where their own advantage lies, and conservatives have gone with the (modest) majority of their voters, perhaps with a hope of picking up UKIPpers to make up losses of remainers.

    The other article posted above from ‘waitingfortax’ website explains why labour and liberal should similarly go with their own voters and oppose Brexit. This is in fact the democratic choice, because it holds open the option for voters to reconsider once more is known.

    It is clear there is little to be gained by the UK not deciding what it wants before entering negotiations. We are not going to trick the EU into agreeing to something it might not otherwise, it has very limited room to negotiate away from its central principled positions. The way to refom the EU and our relationship with it has always been from within.

  10. @BFR

    I admit mine isn’t a good analogy but I don’t think yours is either really.

    The restaurant is saying “We’re not a la carte, you can either eat or not eat, but if you let us know what it is you would like, we’ll see what we can do, but no promises, but we won’t answer any of your questions until you’ve committed to eating here and given us your credit card details”.

  11. @Thouhgtful – “The position was stated On the PM program on radio 4 following the High Court decision on triggering article 50. The guy they had on and unfortunately I can’t remember his name stated quite clearly that the ball is in the EUs court as far as starting negotiations, and it is for them to present their terms first.

    I had no reason to doubt him, but if you know different then please point me in a direction I can research it.”

    So in a nutshell, you heard someone say something on the radio but you can’t remember who he was or what his affiliations are, and on that basis you have ‘no reason to doubt him’?

    Oh to live in such a simple world!

    In terms of quoting Article 218, you’ve completely misunderstood what this is about. This article lays down internal EU procedures for the management or negotiations.

    Indeed, 218(3) that you quote says ” The Commission, or the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy where the agreement envisaged relates exclusively or principally to the common foreign and security policy, shall submit recommendations to the Council…..”

    Note that it says ‘Council’ and not the external negotiating party. I’m really not remotely sure why you bothered to cite this clause and this directive, because it has no relevance at all to your point. Nowhere does it state that the EU negotiator must submit their recommendations to the other party, or table a list of demands first, or lay down the EU’s red lines first etc etc.

    It simply states that the Council needs to agree the terms under which the EU negotiators will operate, once the negotiations start.

  12. prisons

    1000 people
    100 young men
    x prison places

    add 100 young men for cheap labour now
    1100 people
    200 young men

    so do you now need
    1.1x prison places
    2x prison places

    and if it was 2x would the cheap labour lobby admit it or would they only make 1.1.x prison places and leave it to slowly explode?

  13. Danny

    Quite why you posted that to me i really do not understand. I strongly disagree with virtually every thing you posted here and I am sure that is no surprise to you.

    I have no desire to go over the same ground again in debate. I am like most peoiple in the UK ( ie the 52 % who wanted to leave plus the other 30 % who didn’t but accept we are leaving) waiting for it to happen.

  14. S Thomas

    @”we printed north of £350 billion in QE and given it to the banks?”

    No “we” didn’t.

    BoE purchased Gilts already in issue from a variety of institutions in exchange for newly created funds ( cash) . The Gilts purchased are being repaid to BoE , by the Treasury as their redemption dates come up.

  15. OLDNAT

    @”There are future costs that the EU will have to bear which the UK, as a member, is bound to pay – eg the pensions of EU civil servants and MEPs etc etc..”

    These pension rights will presumably be frozen as at the date of service termination.

    If the Pension scheme in question was Fully Funded-ie emp’er/emp’ee contributions are actuarially calculated to fund future pensions in payment to date of death-there will be no need/question of further funding for those frozen entitlements.

    Of course, if the EU pension schemes are like most UK Public Sector Defined Benefit Schemes ( Except LA Scheme) -ie pensions in payment funded by current contributions and/or taxpayer top up of shortfalls -then we will be asked to fund them.

  16. @MrJones

    As a police officer I see the prison debate as entirely wrongly-framed.

    The only thing that matters to me is what the appropriate sentence for a particular offender for a particular crime against a particular victim in particular circumstances should be.

    Once/if the courts have doled out that appropriate sentence, blind to all other considerations, then it is the responsibility of the government to provide sufficient places for all those prisoners.

    There is no “right” or “wrong” number of prisoners, no “too high” or “too low” total population in prison.

    There is just “got justice” or “didn’t get justice”.

    You make an interesting demographic point though, although I think the variables at play are more than just age and gender. Crime rates are highest amongst the disaffected, de-motivated, “hereditary poor” and drug users. It may be that these groups are represented at a different level in new migrants than in the general population.

  17. Neil A,
    “It would be nice, but I think the EU are still hoping to be able to game a non-Brexit outcome, so probably not until that particular issue is put to bed.”

    But this is never going to be put to bed. The final issue will inevitably be, do we want this deal or do we want to remain. Artcile 50 reversibility is besides the point, bcause it will always be open to the EU to negotiate a deal which is the Uk remaining a mamber.

    “Personally I think that’s where we are heading. Britain will be western Europe’s Russian equivalent. Just another rogue nationalist nation with no friends, other than possibly a 70 year old American with orange hair. God help us.”

    Its entirely credible given world conditions. At the best of times there are few alternatives to being part of the EU trading block, and these seem to be narrowing right now.

  18. @Neil A

    It would be nice, but I think the EU are still hoping to be able to game a non-Brexit outcome, so probably not until that particular issue is put to bed

    Isn’t that all the more reason to try and change the fone? There are an enormous number of things which are in our mutual interest and on which we need to collaborate. If we start talking about these we might arrive at a solution that is neither Brexit nor not Brexit which is what I suspect would best suit everybody’s needs.

  19. Neil A

    “You make an interesting demographic point though, although I think the variables at play are more than just age and gender.”


  20. @Tancred – “Interesting snippet on the presidential election:”

    No it isn’t. It’s not remotely interesting. Having 4 million dead people of an electoral role of around 200 million isn’t remotely surprising, even if true. It would mean that the electoral role is out of date by around 2 years, given standard US mortality rates.

    In terms of the ‘3m illegals voting’ it’s worth noting that the report authors claim to have checked 180m voter registrations within 9 days, which at 20million checks a day assuming they got hold of the data instantly the polls closed seems quite a tall order.

    They have also not identified any specific precints, districts or states where this happened, and there is no evidence that they have alerted law enforcement agencies of their findings, as we would normally assume that some kind of criminal investigation would have commenced if there was evidence of electoral fraud.

    While none of this means that the allegations are definitively false, equally just reading what some bloke claims on the internet is true is hard to justify, regardless of how many times the article has been reposted on right wing websites.

    My advice would be to switch from the red feed to the blue feed for a day or two, and see what pops up there.

    [It’s worth looking at some of the other ‘news’ stories published on the Infowars site alongside this one. Prominence is given to a story about Democrat demonstrators blocking and ambulance and causing the death of the father of a 4 year old girl.

    It mirrors a very similar version of the story from July, when it was Black Lives Matter protestors and the ‘victim’ was 12 year old girl awaiting a transplant.

    There is no location, hospital, or name of victim, and no corroborating evidence that such an event ever happened. This hasn’t stopped it going viral across the entire Alt-Right web world.

    Seeing this infection creep into UKPR, I am finally beginning to understand why the US elected Trump. ]

  21. The Other Howard,
    “Quite why you posted that to me i really do not understand.”

    Mostly I make a quote and attribution so that anyone reading my post knows what I am talking about. Yes, it is addressed to the person who made the point inviting further comment, but I hope everyone would feel free to comment.

    if you take part in the debate, then you shoud not be surprised if others respond.

  22. I get the feeling that some people here discussing Brexit negotiating tactics haven’t really taken on board one crucial point. Apologies for boring those who have:

    There will be two sets of negotiations, which may or may not be carried out in parallel, or to some extent merged:

    1. The practical ‘divorce settlement’ triggered by A50. Who pays what in terms of ongoing programmes and liabilities; how and when joint programmes are wound up; what, if any, joint programmes are continued, and if so, how funded. And so on in in mind-numbing detail.

    2. Negotiations regarding future trading relationships between the EU and UK.

    It’s true that A50 says the ‘divorce settlement’ negotiations will be conducted “taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union”, but ‘taking account of’ is very different from ‘negotiating and agreeing’.

    It’s this latter point which Gove addressed when he said “let’s have a quickie divorce and sort out the rest later” (or words to that effect). It’s surely up to us to define what we want in terms of a future framework of relationships: EEA membership; customs union membership; Swiss-style multiple bilateral treaties, or a Gove-style clean break.

    Once we decide what sort of relationship we want, the A50 negotiations on the practicalities of exit can procede on that basis. The EU can’t tell us what sort of future relationship we want. It can explain the options, as above, and indeed these are well known and have been exhaustively discussed and debated in the public domain.

    Once we decide what sort of relationship we want, the A50 negotiations can take that into account. For example, if we opt for the EEA and continuing contributions, then the ‘winding up’ of full EU payment arrangements can be integrated with the new payment arrangements. If it’s a clean break, then a schedule for clearing outstanding liabilities needs to be set up.

    It all seems clear enough in principle. But we seem to be groping around in a fog of misunderstanding.

    The trade negotiations – about which all the stuff about ‘not revealing our hand’ is presumably concerned – are something else entirely.

  23. Neil A
    I admit mine isn’t a good analogy but I don’t think yours is either really.
    The restaurant is saying “We’re not a la carte, you can either eat or not eat, but if you let us know what it is you would like, we’ll see what we can do, but no promises, but we won’t answer any of your questions until you’ve committed to eating here and given us your credit card details”.

    I’m sorry Neil but this conversation really does frustrate me in it’s futility. Europe has said nothing. They had no referendum – we did. Where does the idea come from that they have said ‘we won’t answer any of your questions until you’ve committed to eating here and given us your credit card details’ .

    A better analogy would be we have voted to leave the restaurant and are all now standing outside on the pavement going well shall we have Pizza, Fish and Chips or a Curry. Meanwhile the restaurant owner is standing inside saying – can you make up your mind as to what you want as you are distracting our customers with your arguments.
    So when the 52% can decide what they voted for maybe they can let the EU know and we might be able to start to move on. In the meantime, I guess the rest of us will just need to wait. Hopefully the £100 billion black hole will not get too much bigger while we do.

  24. @Somerjohn

    I broadly agree, other than that I don’t really think that the options are “well known”. Donald Tusk, who ought to know, says “Hard Brexit or No Brexit”. So if it’s really true that the options are well known, then it doesn’t really matter what we want, what we’ll get is Hard Brexit.

    Of course, I don’t believe him, and neither does anyone else, but that means we are all groping around in a fog of deliberate misunderstanding because the options we really want to discuss (a bespoke “none of the above” deal on trade and other relationships) are currently officially not options at all.

    Only after A50 will we find out to what extent there really are options available.

    I don’t doubt that it’s difficult, and that a lot of that difficulty is inherent either to the realities of unpicking such a long-standing and close relationship, and to the lack of clarity around the A50 rules in the wording of the treaty. But I also think a lot of that difficulty is tactical by the EU.

  25. @John

    The EU is constantly commenting on the “negotiations” (that haven’t started yet).

    We have made it quite clear that we want tariff free trading with as few barriers as possible whilst maintaining at least some control over inward migration and ideally withdrawing from the ECJ.

    I agree the analogy is painful, and there are simply not enough similarities between restaurants and Brexit to find a neat one.

    But to develop yours a bit, it’s more like a situation where we are standing in the street, and there are several buildings that have the word “restaurant” written on them, but none of them actually say whether they sell chinese, indian or kebabs. We are being asked what kind of food we’d like to eat, and will be told whether that kind of restaurant is on the street after we’ve said so.

  26. Danny

    Since you have taken offence I will respond to your last post as that was not my desire. It’s just that I am clear on my own position and find the endless speculation very boring now, as do some others. I am trying only posting on Brexit when there is something new to talk abou. Pete B’s poll was new, so I responded.

    Any way this is my response to you points:

    I think “hard” and “soft” Brexit are unclear, or at least are not worth talking about because we do not know what the two negotiating strategies are. Quite right too, that’s not how to negotiate!

    There has been propaganda from both sides, it’s just “froth” IMO.
    We don’t know what the balance of advantage will be in late March 2017 assuming Art. 50 is triggered then. Events could make a difference. Suppose the Euro fell apart as is likely at some time in the future.

    There is an absolutely clear mandate to leave IMO.

    In not opposing the triggering of Art.50 I think Labour are being democratic. If only everybody would be so.

    It is essential that our negotiating plan is kept secret, anything else would be madness in negotiating terms. Having said that May has been rather clear that we wish to have control of our borders and that we want to be outside the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

    There has been no real sign that the EU will reform itself so far. I think it will have to happen after we have left, so us leaving will be good for the EU as well as the UK IMO.

    All in all I think my position is the best there is in the longer term, for both the UK and the EU.

    You will no doubt disagree with everything I have written. I assume that, so there is no need to reply.

  27. Neil A: “Donald Tusk, who ought to know, says “Hard Brexit or No Brexit”.

    Ah, but that’s on the basis that we won’t accept free movement, ECJ jurisdiction or contributions. Thus we have ruled out soft Brexit, leaving only the options he mentioned.

    As I said, the choice of ‘framework’ is down to us.

  28. ALEC

    Thank you for your smug arrogant response:

    “Oh to live in such a simple world!”

    Just because I cannot recall someones name ! How utterly ridiculous!

    At the time of broadcast they did broadcast his name and his job I found him to be a credible source.

    It matters not one jot that I cannot remember his name.

    I asked you for some evidence to the contrary sources, but I note that rather than providing any you continue nit picking faults which aren’t even there.

    You really should watch the Jonathan Pie video, because he could be talking about you!

    You can’t provide any evidence to support your position, so its straight into trying to attack me !

    My challenge to you now is simple – prove it !

  29. @ Danny

    “From your description I would rather expect Trump will be coming for your voters, if he isnt there already. Sounds as though California has the same makings of the Trump win. I got the impression the democrats did better than ever in California, but maybe it is as you described before, merely republicans going for Clinton as being more of a typical republican than Trump. Is there any evidence of turnaround in democrat californian voters, rep voting Clinton and dem voting Trump?”

    He already did come for the voters here and the voters overwhelmingly rejected him. Republicans didn’t vote for Hillary in CA because they found her to be a suitable Republican or more right than Trump, they voted for her (well, a significant chunk defected) because they were so disgusted by and infuriated with Donald Trump. That’s the defection. And it’s broad across the Republican coalition. The wealthy Republicans, the law enforcement Republicans, the Vietnamese American and Korean American Republicans, the upper middle class Republicans, the military Republicans.

    So the difference here to note is one between places that have trended Democratic over the long-term and places that really have remained Republican. So there are Central Valley counties that were once reliably Republican but as the Latino population gains citizenship and voter registration increases, the color starts to change. The same is true in the I-80 corridor in the northern part of the state between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe and in the Inland Empire in the south. You’ve got once red places becoming more diverse racially and turning blue. There was one Assembly race out there where one powerful union actually decided to back the incumbent Republican (Eric Linder) and spent a small fortune to prop him up. He lost anyway to his young openly lesbian Latina challenger (Sabrina Cervantes).

    But then you have places that are reliable red islands in a sea of a blue that switched. So take Westlake Village for example on the Los Angeles County/Ventura County border. It’s very suburban, overwhelmingly white, upper middle class. It’s a pleasant place, very picturesque in a boring sort of a way (if you ever visit, they have one of the best cupcakeries in the world). Votes reliably Republican (though perhaps not by as great a margin). Voted for Hillary Clinton. Westlake Village lies within a sprawling competitive State Senate district that the GOP made their top target. They voted for the Republican candidate (who incidentally lost the district overall by over 10% to the Democratic candidate, who will be the first Millenial in the CA State Senate and got a congratulatory tweet from Ed Milliband). Santa Clarita is in this same district and had contested Assembly and Congressional races too. Santa Clarita voted for McCain and Romney by pretty solid margins. This is a city that is home to numerous LASD deputies, LAPD officers, and their families. And as a law enforcement heavy town, it leans Republican (indeed, both the Republicans running downticket were law enforcement). Santa Clarita voted for Hillary Clinton but voted GOP downticket in every single race.

    Moving down to the Palos Verdes Peninsula is more jarring. Overwhelmingly white and extremely wealthy AND very Republican. They’re socially conservative and economically conservative. Home to defense contractors and old money. Palos Verdes is quite isolated from the rest of the county and south bay, it’s basically a large hilltop in the southwestern most part of the county overlooking the Pacific Ocean and dotted with mansions. At least 3 of the 4 cities voted for Hillary. Surprising? Yes. Because these cities always vote overwhelmingly Republican. Now, there was a contested Assembly District that includes Palos Verdes featuring an incumbent Republican. Palos Verdes voted for the incumbent Republican (who lost district wide to his Democratic challenger by 6%).

    I thought it was fascinating to see longtime Republican bastions in Orange County flip. Orange County voted for Hillary, the first time the county has gone Democratic since the Great Depression. The few cities that typically vote Democratic there had lopsided margins for Hillary. But Republican bastions, especially Asian American ones (Garden Grove, Fountain Valley, Westminster), flipped from red to blue. Places where you have a real strong anti-Communist credo. And then you’ve got your traditional suburbs, middle income, Republican strongholds. Irvine is a master planned community with sort of a Stepford wife vibe. They voted for George W. Bush. Right now, it’s almost 2-1 for Hillary. In San Diego County, all the cities that once voted heavily GOP and are comprised of military retirees (Imperial Beach, Coronado, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido) all shifted blue and voted for Hillary.

    Now, you also have a drop-off in the minority vote. Because you look at the heavily Latino precincts in inner city LA. They’re traditionally overwhelmingly Democratic. But Republicans typically draw 20%-30% of the vote there. Trump was in the single digits or low double digits in most. I think I found an all Latino precinct in South LA where Trump was at 2.8%. Take San Fernando, a heavily Mexican American, working class, and immigrant city in the northeast San Fernando Valley (it’s a lovely place btw, you should have a visit and see real America). Romney won 19% of the vote. Trump, in the initial (and more favorable count), has 14%.

    The Bay Area is striking too. Santa Clara County, which has a large Asian American population, voted 69%-27% Obama over Romney, is currently at 73%-20% for Hillary over Trump. That’s a significant swing. Marin County, which is like the capital of limosuine liberalism, and is one of the only counties in the United States that switched from Reagan to Mondale in 1984 is striking. In 2012, it voted 74%-23% Obama over Romney. Not a shocker. In 2016, it voted 79%-16%. San Mateo County, directly south of San Francisco, has a largely working class albeit racially mixed population. 72%-25% for Obama. 76%-18% for Hillary. Most of these places have had fairly stable voting registration statistics the past few years too.

    Now, as for rural whites, there aren’t a lot of them. But even there, it’s kind of a mixed bag. Donald won most of the rural northern California counties (the “Shining Counties”) which are predominantly white and are very different from the rest of the state. However, while results are still shaking out, he only appears to have dramatically better in two counties (Modoc and Lassen). In the Sierra Madres Mountains foothills counties, Trump is beneath 60% in every single county and is roughly doing the same as Romney. He won both Placer County and El Dorado County (where Lake Tahoe is located) but had major vote share drops compared to Romney and has lost rural Nevada County (which Romney won). In other rural counties, he’s doing about the same or worse.

    So the point of this extensive recap (which is incomplete btw), is basically this: We’re Scotland on the Pacific.

  30. Alec
    So in a nutshell, you heard someone say something on the radio but you can’t remember who he was or what his affiliations are, and on that basis you have ‘no reason to doubt him’?

    Oh to live in such a simple world!

    On a polling site it seems fair to point out that very many people live in just such a world. In fact, I’d go further. Quite a lot of people who adopt a healthy scepticism towards Internet sources (or perhaps largely eschew them in despair of working out what’s trustworthy) look to the BBC as a reliable source of news and information.

    Whether they’re right to do so is a separate issue, of course. I also think it’s possible that the Beeb has lost a bit of credibility over its approach to ‘balanced’ coverage of global warming, although my scientist’s perspective might be leading me to exaggerate the impact this had on public opinion.

  31. @Somerjohn

    There you go then, the government’s position is crystal clear. Hard Brexit it is! Why all this guff demanding they set out their negotiating stance!?

    Unless….. there’s a way to negotiate a middle way. Which Tusk is saying there isn’t, but I expect there is.

    I also don’t think the government has ruled out making financial contributions to the EU (I might have missed this of course).


    A formal protest on behalf of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has been filed in North Carolina’s Bladen County over what was called a “blatant” scheme involving fraudulent absentee ballots that benefited gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper and other Democratic candidates.

    The protest included evidence of a “massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill involving hundreds of ballots, perpetrated by and through the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC,” a political action committee funded by the N.C. Democrat Party and other prominent statewide Democrats, according to a Nov. 15 statement on the McCrory for Governor website.

    The county and state Boards of Elections are investigating.

  33. @Thoughtful – “Thank you for your smug arrogant response……

    ….My challenge to you now is simple – prove it !”

    If checking facts and sources makes me smug and arrogant, then yes I am, and I’ll take this as a complement. Thank you.

    In terms of proving it, I would argue that I have done so already.

    You claim that the EU has a legal obligation to initiate negotiations under A50, I take a different view, although I do think an amenable negotiation is in everyone’s best interest.

    In terms of proving it, read Article 50 and state clearly which parts of that direct the EU to initiate negotiating. In your defence, you quoted Article 218(3). This is clearly irrelevant to your case, and again only covers how the EU internal management of the negotiations works. You offered no evidence that the EU is obliged to table it’s proposals, other than an unnamed source in a radio interview.

  34. Neil A: “There you go then, the government’s position is crystal clear. Hard Brexit it is! Why all this guff demanding they set out their negotiating stance!?”

    Exactly. If the government set that out as its default position, then negotiations can begin on that basis. If anything else emerges in the course of negotiations – say, limited single market access in exchange for limited contributions – then all well and good.

    I think the only thing that stops the government doing that is internal turmoil and dissension. Members of the government – and to a lesser extent the country – are going through a pretty steep learning curve on exactly what the EU is, what it does and what leaving will entail in terms of extra work and cost for the government. That is the consequence of 40 years of lack of interest, and active disinformation, about the EU.

  35. @Thoughtful – the outcome of McCrory’s legal challenge will be interesting. There have been a number of legal actions in many states around voting issues, with the majority of these being against Republican administrations.

    Indeed, in the interests of balance, McCrory had his 2013 changes to the state voting rules pretty much completed eviscerated in an excoriating federal court judgement earlier this year. The court found that “its provisions deliberately “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls”. [From New York Times].

    NC Republicans have a long record of voter suppression and manipulation, almost always based on race.

  36. @Somerjohn

    But I think that government have done exactly that.

    “The best possible trading relationship”, given immigration controls, surely means WTO rules plus/or whatever agreement can be reached with the EU during the A50 period. Which we can’t control and therefore don’t know.

    Again it all really comes down not to “what’s your negotiation position” but “don’t do it”.

    What seems to be happening is that the government doesn’t want, for partisan political reasons but also for sensible negotiating and economic reasons, to appear too downbeat about the prospects for free trade. The EU, for reasons of political principle, doesn’t want to appear too upbeat about the prospects for free trade.

    I don’t really see how anything the government can say, in advance, to parliament or the country, can help in any way with this conundrum. Other than, as I say, reneging on the referendum result, or changing it’s mind about immigration being a red line.

    That’s why it seems to me people need to call a spade a spade. Rather than attacking the process, attack the government for a) it’s commitment to go ahead with Brexit and/or b) it’s decision to make immigration the main priority.

    At the moment, as I’ve mentioned before, Labour is definitely not doing either of these things. Rather the opposite. “We accept that Britain is leaving the EU and we accept that there must be some restrictions on free movement of people” is (unless they’re wildly off message) official Labour policy.

    If it turns out that parliament has the final say, and parliament decides that the government is wrong to go ahead, or wrong to redline immigration, then May faces a choice between changing policy and calling a GE I think. But unless Labour does a volte face on their current pronouncements, I can’t see parliament doing either of those things.

  37. A little tetchy around here this morning. !

    Article 50 seems clearly to require the EU to respond to a member’s use of it:-

    “A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.”

    This seems quite a helpful & credible analysis.

    The EU have appointed their team-so has UK.

    So presumably both sides intend to engage in the process.

    Arguing over which set of proposals is tabled first seems pointless. Both proposals will be tabled, one assumes, thereby highlighting the differences-about which negotiations will be held.

  38. @Neil A

    I don’t really see how anything the government can say, in advance, to parliament or the country, can help in any way with this conundrum. Other than, as I say, reneging on the referendum result, or changing it’s mind about immigration being a red line.

    Well perhaps, But it could stop needlessly upsetting people which isn’t going to help anyone.

    And it might explore exactly what some of these principles mean. If we are going to have any trade relationship with EU it will need policing in some way and neither we nor they can unilaterally preside over the court. But if we agree the terms and they are overseen by some mix of the ECJ and British judges would that be acceptable? After all there are, I think, British judges on the ECJ,

    How far has free movement of labour morphed into free movement of people? Might it not be in everyone’s interest for us to have free movement of labour but claim the right to deport immigrants we did not want (e.g. because they were not working and abusing our NHS – not a large class I suspect but politically difficult).And other eU nations might want something similar.

    Do we mind free movement of goods and services – probably not,

    Do we mind contributions – I don’t although I would like it to be glossed as contributions to a noble end (e.g. promoting European economic equality)

    ETC ETC I want a peaceful, prosperous, and minimally polluted Europe which is a positive force in the world economic order. and isn’t engaged in a competitive race to the bottom. I am prepared to pay towards such a thing and I would like some political party to tell me that that is what they want too. They then get my vote.

    Incidentally I always read your posts with great interest and profit, I am amazed, however, that you post during the day. How on earth do you have the time to catch villains, prevent child abuse and engage in the other good works that you clearly do?

  39. Neil A
    Thanks for your reply, I agree that the analogy is becoming painful so I will move on. But what the conversation and your comment:

    Only after A50 will we find out to what extent there really are options available.

    make clear to me is that despite all the protests from the DM, and some other tabloids, there is nothing fundamentally undemocratic about Tim Farron’s position. We made a choice to leave with no fixed destination in mind. We can leave the decision to TM, BoJo, DD and LF as to where we go. But someone saying, I want the public to vote on the deal you want to impose on the people of the UK is not taking the fundamentally undemocratic position that some are suggesting.
    People may, of course, choice to disagree with his position. But it will be interesting to see how people feel once the negotiations start if it becomes apparent that we have, in fact, left the buffet for TM to decide that we are going to be served tripe (sorry I know I said I would move on but could not resist)!

  40. Further interesting economic figure:-

    UK Retail sales rose at their fastest annual rate in 14 years in October, bolstered by colder weather and Halloween sales at supermarkets.
    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said sales volumes in October were up 7.4% from a year earlier.
    On a monthly basis, sales jumped 1.9% from September – a much stronger increase than economists had forecast.
    October’s autumnal conditions boosted clothing sales.
    Paul Hollingsworth, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: “Clothing sales in particular were strong, perhaps reflecting the cooler weather prompting a re-stocking of consumers’ winter wardrobes.”
    The ONS also said that internet sales posted the strongest growth for five years, jumping almost 27%.
    “Non-store sales have surged over the last months, rising by 4.1% in September and 3.6% in October, showing no weakening in the trend away from spending on the high street to online shopping,” said Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
    The figures suggest consumer confidence remains robust in the face of uncertainty caused by Brexit.
    The pound jumped 0.3% to $1.2478 following the data, but fell against the euro.
    Stronger sales were helped by falling prices. Average store prices fell by 0.7% in October 2016 compared with October 2015 and there were falls in average store price across all store types, except petrol stations, the ONS said.
    However, analysts said that the era of falling prices was set to end soon at a time of weak wage growth.
    Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, commented: “UK retailers enjoyed a mini-boom in October. But such spending is looking increasingly unsustainable as inflation is likely to rear its head in coming months and households are growing worried about their future finances.”
    Mr Tombs said retail sales growth was likely to disappoint in November as clothing sales returned to normal levels.

    Alec et al please note that this is all that is posted on this site about the figures so far. I agree that this level of spending is unsustainable as the article makes clear. However I would suggest that the mood of the public is not negative at the moment.

  41. Neil A – “I broadly agree, other than that I don’t really think that the options are “well known”. Donald Tusk, who ought to know, says “Hard Brexit or No Brexit”. So if it’s really true that the options are well known, then it doesn’t really matter what we want, what we’ll get is Hard Brexit.”

    What we will get will depend on how the eurozone economies are coping with Brexit.

    The German economy underperformed in Q3:

    They came in at 0.2% growth (the UK’s Q3 growth was 0.5%). They blamed Brexit for it:


    German exporters are struggling amid an uncertain global economic environment after Britain’s vote to leave the EU and Trump’s election victory, the Economy Ministry said last week.

    end quote

    So maybe the Remainers were sort of right, Brexit might cause recessions all over the place, just not for us!

    Lets wait and see how they do in Q4. If it is worse than q3, then there will be massive pressure on Merkel to do a deal. Especially as 2017 is election year in Germany. And we can help the process out by withholding purchases of European goods until a deal is done. All is fair in love and negotiations.

  42. TOH,

    ” I agree that this level of spending is unsustainable as the article makes clear. However I would suggest that the mood of the public is not negative at the moment.”

    Jeeze….look at the speed of those Lemmings


  43. Ok how’s about this Restraunt analogy;

    UK goes to the EU Restraunt because it looks like that’s the future of cuisine.

    But after a nice Starter it is really disappointed by the service from the staff and the main course, so they decide to complain and say that if they don’t get an improvement they’ll leave.

    They aren’t happy with what the staff offer and say they are leaving. Fine say the staff if that’s what you want lets just settle the bill.

    Ah wait a minute says the UK, just because we’re leaving and settling up doesn’t mean we’re finished ordering, we want a Desert to take away.

    Sorry say the staff we don’t do takeaway. That’s outrageous says the UK, get me the Manager.

    Over comes Mr Junkers the Manager; “Is there a Problem Sir?”
    “Yes this waiters says he won’t do us take out deserts!” Replies Mr UK.
    “We don’t do takeaway! ” says Mr Junkers, “If you want desert you need to sit in and pay the service charge, and if you don’t want to do that you can go…without a desert, it’s your choice,”

    Where it goes from here I don’t know but I suspect it’s along the lines of not having cake and eating it.


  44. @TOH – drat! I knew I should have added this to my post about the household finance index yesterday to avoid accusations of gloom, but I hesitated as my predictive record tends to be decidedly patchy on a month to month basis.

    What I was going to say was ‘look out for the next batch of retail ales figures’. As households are reporting very rapidly deepening gloom about their financial prospects for the year ahead, and the biggest reported factor is a suspected rise in prices, I was going to predict a month or two of higher retail sales. I myself have opted to make two substantial purchases this week that I would ordinarily have held back until next spring as I don’t technically need the items yet, but as imported high value goods, I have gone ahead to purchase on the basis that the prices will be rising.

    The HFI data suggests that consumers are aware of potential price rises, and so a burst of elevated sales would be a logical response, but I do wish I got this in yesterday.

  45. ‘retail ales’.

    One o’clock and I’m already pished!

  46. It could be a different restaurant entirely by the time we are ready to sit down in it.

    If Renzi loses his Constitutional Referendum on 4th December , and Wilders is Dutch PM come 15th March and if Trump has told Germany it has to double its NATO funding contribution; it might be a Self Service Restaurant.,

    Or it might have closed :-)

  47. Alec

    Yes, you missed a trick there, but you did pip me to it, as I was about to post something similar. However as I say from my point of view that is still good news, because it shows that consumers may be thinking ahead to a downturn, after all they have been told often enough it’s coming (:-)) and yet support for Brexit remains solid.

    Nice one.

  48. “This is a terrible restaurant, we’ve not been served well, this steak is terrible, and now we’re leaving you won’t give us desert!”
    “Sir, this is a shoe shop.”

  49. Jayblanc,

    It’s not a Shoe Shop…it’s a Cheese Shop!


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