Psephology is Election Data

Welcome. I will not push too much preamble, except to say this site is the product of months of effort that continues today, borne of years of frustration at the relative inaccessibility of the very important data collected and arranged here. See below my long-form blog posts from substack. The menu bar at the top of the page will lead you to the site's meat and potatoes. The majority of the data that's arranged here can be found on the House and Senate pages, and within you can find where I game out the impact on the House as a result of various scenarios in in the 2024 general election. Other features are added all the time, so please check back frequently.

Wed, 17 Apr 2024 21:21:30 GMT

Speaker Mike Johnson(LA04) announced a plan to bring bills to the floor of the House this coming Saturday, to provide aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, along with a convoluted porky bill that combines renewing and extending Lend-lease to Ukraine, and banning Tiktok. Each of these proposed bills are worth a lengthy discussion, but I want to talk about the announcement itself.

Johnson has been under enormous pressure from within his own House party caucus, and reportedly from the former President himself, to keep any such bill off the floor, as the GOP wants to take as hostages the people of Ukraine to pass Mexican border security legislation.

Except no they don't, because a bipartisan Senate coalition created and passed a bill to provide aid to Ukraine, and allocate billions to beef up Mexican border security and hire more judges to mitigate the humanitarian crisis there. And Johnson refused to take it up, reportedly because he was instructed not to by the former President, who thought he could use the border issue as a cudgel to use in his Presidential campaign against Joe Biden. Because the GOP has always benefited more from complaining about the border than from fixing it.

Speaking of the former President, Johnson had a one-on-one private meeting with him at his nursing home in Palm Beach, this past Friday. At its conclusion, Trump and Johnson addressed the press, with Trump saying he stands by Johnson as speaker. This is what I find especially interesting about this whole situation. "We’re getting along very well with the speaker — and I get along very well with Marjorie," Trump said, referring to Marjorie Taylor Greene(GA14), who's made it known in no uncertain terms that she would move to confiscate Johnson's gavel if he brought Ukraine aid to the floor for a vote.

But now, Johnson has announced he will do exactly that. Within a week of receiving public praise from Trump, who in the same breath claimed he has a good relationship with MTG. There is something major going on behind the scenes in the Republican Party right now. Let's dive into it a bit.

I think the meeting at Mar-a-Lago went poorly for Trump. Also, I believe that Trump came out of it defeated by Johnson. If the outcome had been amicable, or to Trump's advantage, then Trump would be calling for Johnson's head right now, for making his announcement. Instead, he was asked by the press for a reaction on Tuesday after sitting in a courtroom all day in Manhattan, and his response was, simply, "Well, we'll see what happens with that." Under normal circumstances, if Trump believes he's been wronged, he doesn't hesitate to throw stones.

I think Johnson told Trump his plans, refused to kiss the ring, and told Trump something that's kept him quiet. Passing Ukraine aid would devastate an entire pillar of Trump's campaign, and would cede it to Joe Biden. Further, it makes Trump look even weaker if mild-mannered whipping-boy Mike Johnson acts with impunity as Speaker, in defiance to Trump, Greene, and the far-right Freedom Caucus.

Based on these events, I think the following things are happening.

1) Johnson has made a deal with House Democratic leadership, or with enough democrats to get a good enough nose count to know he would survive a motion to vacate. What concessions he may have agreed to, to reach this deal, may or may not ever be known. It seems to me though that putting the aforementioned foreign aid bills on the floor would probably be part of that.

2) Trump is much weaker than he and his media allies let on. His cognitive abilities have been in open decline in recent months, and he has basically nothing to campaign on other than in-house conspiracy theories, score-settling, and the evangelical goals of Project 2025.

3) Trump's weakness is viewed as enough of a liability now that the GOP's leaders and well-placed officials are working to position themselves for a post-Trump world, and the historically enormous power-vacuum the party will have after Trump loses again, exits public life, and his supporters meld backward into the hedge like Homer Simpson.

4) The Kremlin is extremely weak as well. Two years of unsuccessful war have exhausted their supplies of personnel and materiel. Ukraine is starved of resources, and yet the orcs still make only marginal gains where they do gain. I think they are out of gas, and so is their servant Trump. Their proxies in Tehran are militarily greater than they are, now. Even so, the biggest attack by Iran against any Western country in history was defeated utterly on Saturday, with only a single human injury. When Ukraine gets an infusion of money, supplies, and materiel, I think things will start happening quickly in the Donbas, and it will not go well for Putin.

5) Johnson knew most if not all of this, going into his meeting with Trump, and dominated Trump as a result.

6) The Freedom Caucus will cease to be a significant political force by this time next month, because I think one of the concessions Johnson will make it to raise the threshold for a motion to vacate from a single member to a much more realistic number that better reflects the intention of the Chamber at large. If/when that happens, the Freedom Caucus and other far-right members will lose the leverage they have against their party today.

This was a lot to read, and I hope you made it all the way here, because I think we have seen signs that the events I've been anticipating for quite a while are starting to come to fruition.

The Speaker is putting Ukraine aid to a vote on Saturday. I think this betrays Trump's extraordinary weakness.
Fri, 22 Mar 2024 19:03:21 GMT

When Trump was at best complicit and at worst responsible for the Jan 6th riot, the whole Party seemed united in their condemnation of the solipsistic President. He served the remainder of his term in relative silence, and went back to Florida with his tail between his legs on Inauguration Day.

Then, Kevin McCarthy(then CA20) went to Mar-a-Lago. There, he had a happy photo taken of himself with the former President, and he officially kissed the ring. That's why the House Democrats voted with Matt Gaetz(FL01) to vacate the Speaker's chair in October. If not for McCarthy, the world might even be rid of Trump by now.

Mike Johnson(LA04) is no prize, but he's also not Kevin McCarthy. He's a novice legislator, and a terrible Speaker, who has been puppeted from Mar-a-Lago since he got the gavel. Trump is beholden to Putin, so Trump will not allow Johnson to bring a vote on Ukraine aid to the floor. The GOP is tying itself in knots to conform to Trump's whims and requirements, which are seldom if ever in the interest of anyone other than Trump himself.

The wheels of confiscating Mike Johnson's gavel were just set to spinning by Marjorie Taylor Greene's(GA14) motion to vacate, but this time, I think the Democrats have an historic opportunity to get basically everything they need, by manhandling the Speaker. They have no particular quarrel with Johnson, other than his repugnant positions on a variety of issues, so they're in a position to save him. If all 213 Democrats vote against vacating the chair, then the Speaker only has to convince three of his best friends in the House to support him. In exchange for this salvation, I propose the Democratic Caucus impose the following requirements upon Johnson:

1) The motion to vacate requires fifty votes now-- or a hundred --just not one.
2) The partisan score-settling is over. The Weaponization Committee and impeachment efforts are dissolved. The House returns to doing the People’s business, not the Party’s. This will look better for the GOP too, as they currently are making complete asses of themselves, revealing incompetence and potential criminal and treasonous behavior in their own ranks in their vain efforts to embarrass their opponents.
3) A vote to pass the budget is presented cleanly and as-is, to remain in effect until after the 119th Congress is seated in January. No more nail-biting continuing resolutions.
4) A comprehensive aid package for Ukraine goes to the floor for a vote within 20 minutes of the defeat of the vote to vacate the Speaker’s seat.

All of these concessions are good for everyone except Trump and his winged monkeys in the Freedom Caucus.

MTG thinks she can get rid of Johnson like Gaetz got rid of McCarthy. The Democrats have an historic opportunity in taking her power away.
Tue, 12 Mar 2024 21:49:31 GMT

Colorado Republican Ken Buck(CO04) announced some time ago that he would not seek re-election to his seat in Congress. Lauren Boebert(CO03) fresh off dodging a bullet in 2022 that is not likely to miss in 2024, announced in December that that she would run instead for Buck’s seat, for a district which favors Republicans by double-digits.

Today, Buck announced that he would leave the House on March 22nd, introducing complexity to an already difficult race for Boebert. Let’s explore that complexity a bit.

Governor Jared Polis is a rising star in the Democratic Party, having represented Joe Neguse’s CO02 before his successful gubernatorial run in 2018 and easy re-election in 2022. The choice and logistical details fall to him, as to when the special election to fill Buck’s seat will take place. There are two major possibilities, both with deeply impactful consequences.

Colorado’s primary election is on June 25th. Lauren Boebert cannot run in the special election unless she resigns the seat she currently holds until January 3, 2025.

Before the Primary

If the special election is held before the primary election, then Congresswoman Boebert can either resign and run, giving herself a much-needed leg-up in the Primary, or just accept that she will face an incumbent in the Primary, which I think will be very difficult for her. She could resign and try to become the incumbent for CO04, but that’s anything but guaranteed. If she loses the special election, she would go into the Primary even weaker, and she’d be out of office. Also, that would create another vacancy for the Governor to address.

After the Primary

Colorado law states that the Governor cannot schedule a special election within 90 days of a general election— that is to say, the special election cannot be held after August 7th, 2024, and would probably be held, at the latest, on Tuesday, August 6th. That leave six potential Tuesdays, if it’s held on a Tuesday. The news media seem to be convinced that Gov Polis will stall the special election as long as he can, in an effort to exacerbate the narrow margin by which the Republican Party holds its majority in the House of Representatives. With two more budget showdowns before the General Election to showcase the legislative ineptitude of Speaker Johnson(LA04) and his extremist caucus of made-for-TV buffoons, this would probably be politically advantageous in the big picture.

For Lauren Boebert, it would create an all-or-nothing scenario. If she wins the Primary, she needn’t care how the special election turns out, because with the GOP nomination, she would likely cruise to a General election victory, and be sworn in on January 3rd for CO04. However, if she doesn’t win the primary, her 2024 hopes are completely destroyed. Keep in mind though that this scenario was exactly the same before Buck announced his early departure from the House.

Polis has an historic opportunity to take impactful steps to rid Congress of the Boebert menace by holding the special election before the Primary, or he can delay the special election as long as he can, to put a spotlight on the hapless bungling of the House GOP.

My money is on the GOP humiliating themselves just fine, without help from Jared Polis.


Governor Polis wasted no time. He has set the date for the special election to be the same as the Colorado Primary, June 25th. This means that voters will be forced to pick someone who is not Lauren Boebert to finish out the term, and then turn around and vote for her for the Primary, if she really does have a chance. It seems strange to me that she would get a winning number of votes when people can just vote for the same person twice. Time will tell though.

Ken Buck has created a scenario that may destroy Lauren Boebert, but Jared Polis needs to make it happen.
Thu, 29 Feb 2024 22:22:03 GMT

Super Tuesday is coming up on March 5th, and there are a lot of races to take into consideration. In this post, I will take a swing at California, where a Senate seat and 52 House seats will be on the ballot.

It is of note that California's primary elections are nonpartisan, and only the top two candidates advance to the General Election. This can produce contests between two candidates of the same party, and definitely has before.


After Dianne Feinstein(D) died last year, Gov. Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to serve the remainder of her term, which ends on Jan 3, 2025. Butler has stated that she is not running for the seat, so it's open, and there is a big crowd of hopefuls, though the pack appears to be led by Adam Schiff(currently representing CA30) and Katie Porter(CA47, from the West Wing). Barbara Lee(CA12) is also running, and is predicted to carry much of the black vote. But the problem there is that California is not actually a very black state, with only just over 5% of Californians identifying as African American.

Adam Schiff is a polished, popular, well-spoken politician who represents a district with a lot of politically active, wealthy celebrities. He made a big splash on the national stage during the impeachments of the former President, and in the House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack.

Katie Porter has gained nationwide fame as well for her plain-spoken but deeply effective floor and commitee speeches, usually with a whiteboard to illustrate her points with biting, inescapable logic. Porter is a rising star in the Democratic Party, and in American politics in general, but Adam Schiff already is a star, and he's out-raised Porter two to one.

That said, I think the Senate primary will handily advance Schiff and Porter to the General. What happens after the primary is a matter for the campaign, which I think will unfortunately get messy.


Because of California's nonpartisan primary structure, we're only looking for who the top two finishers will be in a given race, and honestly, because of the blue leanings of the state in general, and the sheer number of seats, I will only be mentioning a couple, that I think will be interesting to watch. There will almost certainly be some that will still be interesting, but that I simply don't have the bandwidth to analyze. In any case, I will be extremely interested in the partisan swing in the Golden State, once the results are counted.

John Duarte(CA13) is in a tight seat, and faces a tough challenge from Adam Gray, who Duarte defeated in 2022 by an extremely narrow margin. There are two other candidates registered with the FEC, but neither has raised a substantial amount. This appears to be a race with a predictable outcome, but I will be interested in whether Gray outperforms Duarte in this matchup.

David Valadao(CA22) is losing his fingernails holding onto a seat for a D+4 district as a Republican. He voted to impeach Trump after January 6th, showing his largely working-class constituency that he isn't afraid to take principled stands on their behalf, even when it puts him in hot water with his party. Valadao is basically guaranteed to advance to the general. He isn't the question. The other position is the subject of a bitter fight between Democrats Rudy Salas and Melissa Hurtado, and Republican Chris Mathys, all of whom ran in 2022 as well, except Hurtado. Salas came out far in the lead in the '22 primary, but was ultimately defeated by the incumbent in the general, so it will be difficult to predict the outcome. I will watch this race closely.

Michael Garcia(CA27) is a Republican former naval aviator who represents a D+4 district in LA's north suburbs. Former NASA Chief of Staff George Whitesides is running as a Democrat, and has a war-chest almost twice as deep as the incumbent, though it won't go far as the LA media market is an exceptionally expensive place to buy commercial time. Garcia is running for a third term in the seat, and will almost certainly use his veteran credibility to set himself apart from Whitesides, who I predict Garcia will try to frame as an elite bureaucrat. These two will almost certainly advance to the general, but as with CA13, I am interested in what kind of margin there is between them, if any.

Republican Ken Calvert(CA41) faces a bankrolled challenge from Democrat Will Rollins in another suburban LA district, currently sporting a PVI of R+3. Again, I don't see any reason that these two won't advance to the general, but I will be watching the margin.

The Golden State doesn't have any obvious surprises in the primary, but the results will still be a bellwether.
Mon, 26 Feb 2024 21:44:49 GMT

I’ve been busy with a number of personal and work projects, but I’ve managed over the last couple weeks to squeeze an update onto the site that I personally find extremely valuable and helpful, and I hope you will too.


On the House and Senate pages, you can see an index for all the seats in each chamber, along with information about who occupies which seat, district maps, external links, and now, Analysis pages. I talked about these pages before, when I added FEC Data to them. I’ve now added polling data from 538, which you can see here in this page for Sherrod Brown’s Senate seat, or in this page for analysis of what will become of Katie Porter’s House District since she’s running for Senate.

I’m hoping this will change, but there are very few polls published for House seats— right now maybe about 20, compared to at least a hundred for the Senate. It’s still February, I suppose, and whatever the totals look like as the elections draw closer, they will increase in number.

To complement these updates, I made some changes to the nav bar at the top of every page, and made main index pages for the analysis pages for the House and the Senate, that will hopefully make it a little easier to navigate from race to race.

I also wrote some backend automation stuff that will send me a nice email when there are updates to the frequently updated data for FEC data and polling data.

I’ll be back soon with some analysis for the field-narrowing for the many, many seats that will be on the ballot in five states for Super Tuesday on March 5th.

On another note, I have been trying to think of ways to get the word out about this site. Search engines are definitely hitting it hard, presumably because the pages are just jammed with links, and links are like catnip to web crawlers. But I think the data I’ve assembled here is valuable and useful. If you think so too, please share it with any platform you like to use.

I’ll be back soon.

You can now view polling data for a given House/Senate race
Wed, 14 Feb 2024 17:13:36 GMT

Sometime in the last couple elections, primary elections for Presidents were peeled off most state primaries, so while the nothingburger Presidential primaries will proceed in a rather timely manner between now and July to produce the same nominees as we had in 2020, the primaries for Congress will be spread out all the way into the fall. These will be my editorial focus in the coming months, and to assist with that, I put together a primary tracker that shows what states and seats will have primary elections over the course of the upcoming season.

The challenge, as you might have noticed if you clicked into the tracker without finishing reading my flowery prose, is that the first five primaries will take place on Super Tuesday, and they are doozies. Two competitive Senate seats in California and Texas, and a whopping 115 House seats— many many of which are competitive and/or newsworthy —in Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas.

I will be talking about every Senate race, as there are only 34 of them, spread mercifully throughout the primary season, but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to write individually about all 435 House races, and also sleep, eat, have a relationship with my family, and make a living.

So I will try to lift and separate the House races that are competitive, interesting, or are otherwise worthy of mention. I am certain I will miss some, but I promise you I will try.

The congressional primaries will start in just a few weeks, and they will be grisly.
Thu, 01 Feb 2024 23:13:26 GMT

I’ve been busy at the new job, but also with trying to get some features added to the site. While I still have a small backlog of minor fixes to apply, it was very important to me that the site get the features I’ll describe in detail... now.


After several months, I managed to work out a way to present the Senate in a way that’s reasonably consistent with how House districts are presented. The challenge— if you’re interested —came when I realized that no Senate seat has a hard classification or name or title, like with House districts. The only real distinction between one state’s seat and its other seat in the Senate is that one Senator is Junior and the other is Senior, based on a long list of factors that determine seniority. For example, Georgia Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were sworn in as Senators at the exact same moment, so their seniority is determined instead by the alphabetic order of their last names. ‘O’ comes before ‘W’ in the alphabet, so Ossoff is the senior Senator from Georgia.

That also highlights the fact that when a Senate seat is open for a given election, there is no reckoning as to which seat it is, in the context of “Senior” versus “Junior.” Seniority is determined by the set of factors above, not the seat itself. With that in mind, the URL scheme I set up for the Senate is “/s/GA/Warnock.” In any case, here’s the Senate. Enjoy that. You can also reach Senate data from the menu at the top of every page on the site.

FEC Data

I’ve also added the ability to see campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission, with the data distilled down to three points: Contributions, Disbursements, and Cash on Hand. This is the first of a number of features I want to add to the new election analysis pages that have been made for House and Senate races. Have a look at this one for the Laphonza Butler’s open Senate seat in California, or this one for Colorado’s 3rd District, recently abandoned by Lauren Boebert after her volatility changed the district from safe to competitive. You can see campaign finance summary data, and I encourage you to check back, as the data will be updated over time, as the election nears. The FEC requires quarterly filings from all candidates for federal office.

I have some more ideas, but the site is already in a place where I can just spend hours just diving into various races. I hope you enjoy this data and analysis as much as I do. I will keep working on it and writing about it.

Senate, FEC Numbers for both Senate and House
Thu, 25 Jan 2024 23:00:26 GMT

Trump cannot win in November without the independent and unaffiliated voters. Haley can't win without Trump's wackos.

Biden's campaign has no such material breach between such large groups of voters, and the bleeding of support that's being reported is being addressed, as the majority of his interaction with Israel has been in the pursuit of detente, not the genocidal aspirations of Netanyahu.

It's largely for this reason that I think Trump's path to victory is probably too narrow to be realistic, even now. And it's getting narrower over time. The greatest strength Trump's campaign has, ironically, is that most people don't really grasp yet that he'll be the GOP nominee. Haley obviously is not going to win the nomination, but let's say that for the sake of argument, she does.

It's not like Trump will quietly concede and go retire to peacefully defend himself in 37 courtrooms. He will take his wackos and start his own party-- or just threaten to do so --and the RNC will accede to his will. This will keep the wackos in the GOP column, but it will alienate even more nose-holding conservatives. The result of this is something that has been the case ever since Trump's post-coup comeback: Trump owns the Primaries, but can't win a general.

And you notice I haven't said anything at all about the more than half of Republicans who adamantly oppose a national abortion ban? Or how the number of Americans who consider climate change a "major concern" is up to 74% from 50% in 2020? Or how the Affordable Care Act enjoys 62% approval and Trump plans to gut it? Or literally anything about Project 2025?

And this consideration is all agnostic of Trump's criminality and almost certain impending convictions.

Trump's path to the White House is getting lost in the weeds.
Thu, 28 Dec 2023 21:19:29 GMT

Iowa has four congressional districts. All are currently represented by Republicans. Only one(IA04) has the numbers to be considered "safe" from the possibility of getting flipped to Democratic control, with the Cook Political Report assessing its partisan lean to a sixteen point advantage by the GOP, and its incumbent Randy Feenstra is running unopposed in the primary. Lightning does sometimes strike, but I would say that Randy Feenstra holding Iowa-04 is one of the safest bets you can make for 2024.

But the other three districts are assessed with Republican advantages of no greater than four points-- two at R+3 and one at R+4. Cook, Sabato, and Gonzales all rate these races with terms like, "Solid," "Likely," "Lean," and "Tilt" to all say they are relatively safe from the danger of a Democratic flip. Their 2024 elections are expected to be competitive, but with a decided Republican advantage.

But just like in 2022, I think the predictors are all missing the effect that a crucial element will have in Iowa.


Conservative lawmakers in the Hawkeye state are cooking up a ballot question with the extremely wordy name, "Iowa No State Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment," which will enshrine in the state's Constitution the explicit lack of a right to abortion by anyone in the state. The Iowa House passed the Amendment in 2021, and the state Senate passed it the next day. They will have to pass it again in a 2024 session for the question to appear on the ballot for Iowans to vote on it.

This is an active effort by Iowa Republican activists, despite well-documented opposition that predates the June 2022 Dobbs decision by the US Supreme Court that formally overturned Roe v. Wade, by over a year. All I can think of to explain this effort to jump off a cliff together is some internal polling the GOP might have that says that posing this question to voters in Iowa would not be disastrous for them. Though that seems unlikely. I think it’s more realistic that the pressure from various groups whose support is critical to the GOP's ongoing campaign funding is so great that the state legislature simply can't turn from this path now.

But if they pass the Amendment in 2024, and the question is put to the voters, I predict the backlash will be severe enough that not only will the Amendment be defeated by a highly motivated turnout, but that GOP representatives Miller-Meeks, Hinson, and Nunn(all three of whom have demonstrated and telegraphed that they would vote in favor of a national abortion ban) would also lose their seats, along with enough Republicans in the state House and Senate to flip them to Democratic control. I think it would also cost Gov. Reynolds her office if her term was up in 2024, but we have to wait for 2026 for that.

The nationwide right to abortion was rescinded in 2022. That fall, the GOP was expected to win Senate seats in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia. They were expected to flip the House of Representatives by dozens of seats. It is not a coincidence that they failed to flip the Senate seats in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, and even lost a seat in Pennsylvania. It's not a coincidence that the GOP's razor-thin House victory can be accounted only by redistricting that has since been undone or compensated. The Dobbs decision turned what was supposed to be a red wave into a bare House victory that would prove even more embarrassing for the GOP in the ensuing term, as the Party made a sport of stepping on rakes.

Every question about abortion that's been posed to voters since the Dobbs decision-- in red states and blue --has ended in victories for abortion rights advocates. Going into 2024, this momentum will only build, as more and more states put the question to their voters. Already New York and Maryland have put abortion questions on their 2024 ballots. Iowa is poised to do so as well, along with Missouri, Florida, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, and potentially more states. It is not looking good for the Grand Old Party, and I plan on exploring this more deeply as we get closer to the elections in 2024.

And this is to say nothing of the effect that a Trump Republican nominee would have on the election.

Iowa's legislature is playing with fire, and they might not even be aware of it.
Fri, 20 Oct 2023 05:55:12 GMT

At 45, Nancy Mace(SC01) is only nine months older than me. As one of the youngest Republican voices in the House, she distinguished herself early in her first term by saying publicly and with enthusiasm that the Party had to move on from Donald Trump, and that she was working toward a party of moderates that cooperates with the opposition to make and pass legislation.

Trump won her district in 2016 by 14 points. That narrowed to 6 points in 2020, when Mace herself was elected, unseating incumbent Democrat Joe Cunningham, who himself won his seat by his fingernails in the blue wave of 2018. South Carolina-One has been in play for some time, and has seen Katie Arrington, a Trump-endorsed candidate, fail to get across the finish line in both 2018 and 2022. Trump endorsed Mace in 2020, but appeared to sour on her after she spoke out against a GOP future in which he figured prominently.

I say this because SC01, from all indications, is far from a lock for any candidate, though its generic electoral makeup does appear to favor Republicans, usually by single-digits. They're just not overly fond of the former President, and in this district, his endorsement is not the golden ticket it is in many other districts.

Nancy Mace was elected as a moderate, in what appears to be a moderate district. But in recent months, she has executed a political about-face, embracing extremists like Jim Jordan(OH04), and finding herself allied with characters like Matt Gaetz(FL01) and Marjorie Taylor Greene(GA14). More recently, she's been positioning herself in a more and more exposed posture, appearing on the floor of the House in a made-for-TV ensemble: a t-shirt that leaves little to the imagination, with a large red letter "A" on it-- a misplaced reference to Hawthorne's Hester Prynne --explaining to the assembled media that she is on the side of the people, not the establishment, in response to a claim nobody made.

Mace does not as of now have a serious primary challenge, and it could be that the alliance with far-right extremists in the House could simply be a feint, to prevent a primary challenge from a Trump-enthusiast like Arrington again, and save herself money to face a much more serious challenge in the general election from businessman Michael Moore(no relation) or attorney Mac DeFord.

I personally think Mace is relying on the general tendency of MAGA voters to have the memory of a goldfish, pretending now to be working for them to avoid a primary challenge. After the June 11th primary, I think Nancy Mace will magically transform back into a moderate, and also try to bury her previous opposition to abortion rights.

As things are now, SC01 is going to be a district to watch in 2024. I will definitely revisit this district as the primary and general elections draw closer.

Nancy Mace got elected as a moderate but is dining with the Freedom Caucus now. Why?
Thu, 19 Oct 2023 04:46:59 GMT

Not to be outdone by the previous leading GOP hopeful for the office of the Speaker, Rep Jim Jordan(OH04) had his second straight humiliation on the House floor today, denying him the gavel. While Jordan held the gate open to let Victoria Spartz(IN05) and Doug LaMalfa(CA01) back in from their wayward votes in Round 1, Drew Ferguson(GA03), Mariannette Miller-Meeks(IA01), and Pete Stauber(MN08) ran out of the pen, leaving Jordan one vote lighter than he was in the first round, finishing up with 199 votes, losing 22 votes to 10 other GOP candidates, to Hakeem Jeffries’(NY08) 212 united, unanimous, unshakable Democratic votes.

I wanted to make a point of the fact that while Jim Jordan chases and bullies his majority caucus, the Democrats’ vote, through 17 votes in 2023, has been as solid as steel. 100% of the Democrats present for every vote, voted for Jeffries. No name has been said aloud more on the House floor in these votes than Hakeem Jeffries.

What I think this illustrates is the knowledge within the House Democratic Caucus, which is not yet in the minds of most 2024 voters: the next national election will be pivotal in our nation’s history. Most people who are going to vote aren’t fully aware that the nominees will almost certainly be Joe Biden and Donald Trump again. If they did, the polls would be much more one-sided than they are, as evidenced by the unified front the House Democrats are presenting. As the election draws closer, this will becom much more obvious.

House Republicans are putting on a brave face, telling America that everything is fine, and that Jim Jordan will come out of this with the gavel and the House can proceed on its business of impeaching the President without evidence, denying rights to gender-nonconforming Americans, serving Putin’s war agenda by denying aid to Ukraine, pushing for a nationwide abortion ban, and doing other irrational things to tap-dance for Trump’s deplorables.

But everyone can see this. The dysfunction of the GOP is on display for all. America is seeing what happens when they vote for each party. The House when controlled by Democrats passed laws that, if they made it to the President’s desk, executed impactful change, reflecting the positions of a majority of Americans. The House under Republican control has been marked by attempts at score-settling, name-calling, and performative political gamesmanship.

America is learning more every day what happens when they vote for the Party that Donald Trump consumed. TV. Not government.

Jordan lost by more than before. I think it means something.
Wed, 11 Oct 2023 15:42:18 GMT

I've been quiet on here lately. Sorry about that. But I want to assure you-- both of you --that I have not been idle. In fact I wanted to take this moment to tell you what's kept me busy since August. An ambitious project has occupied the majority of my free time as I wanted to give it the focus I believe an undertaking like it deserves. I've passed this around to a couple of people, and secured the blessing of the management team over at the Cook Political Report for the integration of their data in it. The feedback from everyone who's seen it has been positive, and I am happy with its current progress.

The Psephology Project by John Kelly

The word comes from the Greek word for "pebble," which refers to the means by which people voted in the earliest examples of Democracy. From the about page:

…there is a mountain of psephology data, and in that mountain, as with other agglomerations of data I have spent my career handling, there are messages. Messages that are going unnoticed and unheeded. This website is the most complete effort of mine, to date, to try to find, isolate, and cast a light on those messages.


…it is also my intention to provide a service to which most people do not have access, not being employed by large news organizations, political parties, campaigns, advocacy groups, corporate entities, educational institutions, or other well-resourced entities that are able to hire consultants and firms to aggregate and present this data to them. I believe very strongly that the public are entitled to public information, and indeed our societal outcomes are better when they have it.

Currently, the site only has information about the US House of Representatives, but in the coming weeks I will be adding information about the Senate, upcoming elections for both houses of Congress, and hopefully I can provide some valuable insight for the upcoming Presidential election.

In the meantime, I will be linking back to pages on the site in my posts here on Substack, and I encourage anyone who stumbles across this post to do the same. In addition, I have renamed this Substack from "I'm Still Hopeful"(and I definitely still am) to "Counting Pebbles," having repurposed the blog as an official editorial complement to the hard data in the Psephology Project.

Please let me know what you think of the project, and any ideas you may have for things that you’d like to see it do.

I haven't been idle. I got a new job too!
Sun, 06 Aug 2023 06:10:28 GMT

I love saying this.

I was right.

Russia poured the entirety of their power and legitimacy into the Ukraine invasion, and though the war is technically still happening, they lost, and now they have nothing. Want an example? There is a summit of over 30 countries in Jeddah right now, to discuss Ukraine's terms for peace. In attendance are the US, China, India, France, the UK, and of course Ukraine. Russia is not invited, and their position is not being considered.

The exclusion is a massive snub to Russia, but Putin's threats are hollow and the world knows it. His rule and Russia's primacy on the world stage are simply gone.

I was right.

This is the reason I started watching the war intently when Russia failed to achieve objectives as early as the first moments of the war. Because I knew that if Russia loses, as it appeared more than possible they would before those first 24 hours were over, Russia would break itself completely on the Ukrainian anvil, and the possibility of a world without the contaminating influence of Vladimir Putin was too exciting to consider.

But when Putin not only failed to take Kyiv in the early days, but failed in spectacular, humiliating fashion, laying bare the absolutely pitiful state of the Russian military, I knew this war would be his end, and that he would spend Russia's viability in the attempt. All for his own deluded vanity.

Now, Putin is unable to defend his own country, and put down rebellions within his own borders. His inner circle dwindles, and is now just a band of circling sharks, awaiting their moment to supplant him-- except that with Western sanctions and no military to speak of, there's not much for them to usurp.

Putin and Russia are finished. I was right.

His influence is gone, and we need only wait to reap the global benefits.
Thu, 27 Jul 2023 21:21:10 GMT

Zuckerberg-headed Meta released its new “Twitter killer” earlier this month, called Threads. As its userbase comes largely from Meta-owned Instagram with only a couple of taps on the screen of your favorite mobile device, the platform saw an explosion of growth in its first week, with over 100 million users signing up. I installed it and checked it out, and found it to be lacking in features, even compared to Twitter, but filled with optimistic posts about how this is the next big thing. It feels similar to how Google+ felt shortly after its slow-rolled release in 2011, or how Twitter felt, a few years earlier. Everyone’s excited, but there’s nothing to do. I wrote about it before I tried it, and now that I have tried it, I don’t have any particular interest in it. I actually just uninstalled the app after not having opened it at all since the day I tried it out.

The lack of features is being addressed over time by Meta’s developers, adding functionality presumably as they finish writing and testing it. So under these conditions, it seems more than possible that Threads will eventually replicate all of Twitter’s functionality. But that still just produces a product that works exactly like Twitter, which is less than exciting. More on that later.

On the web, Threads is only accessible in a read-only context. All meaningful interaction requires the use of the official mobile app. There is no public API, no access for anyone who doesn't consent to data collection, and as of now, no framework available for making third party apps. This means that all users of the platform are 100% subject to the whims of Meta. There’s no access available to anyone who doesn’t consent to data collection. There’s no view of the platform that Meta does not control.

Threads and other commercial entities are hellbent on eating up the market that Twitter/X is vomiting onto the table, but none seem to be aware that restricting access spells failure from the start.

Twitter became colossal because it was accessible to the world. There was a powerful API that they provided, out of which was born countless excellent third party apps, where all of the now-indispensable features originated: account tags, hashtags, likes, retweets, quote tweets, lists, following, and many more. From the innovation that third party developers loaded into the platform, Twitter became the first place where most news broke. It became a source of news in and of itself.

Twitter became enormously valuable because of the general interest it had, the size of the community it hosted, and critically, the access that was available to it. Twitter, Inc began to be able to assemble blocks of “big data” that they could sell. Interests and buying habits of large blocks of users. Engagement(likes, follows, retweets, replies, etc) became an element to be monetized.

Over time, the interests of Twitter’s two major interested parties— the community and the company —became so misaligned that the company started to introduce and promote toxicity for the sake of engagement, prompting many users to reduce or even eliminate their participation. Content posted by incendiary figures was identified and placed into people’s feeds in a deliberate attempt to enrage them, and get them to engage.

By the time entitled Dunning-Kruger billionaire Elon Musk made his catastrophic purchase of the platform, the “engagement through toxicity” approach was years underway, and Twitter usage was regarded as a bad habit. Twitter— both the company and the community —was in trouble, and though that trouble could only be quelled by increasing access, and taking the company’s finger off the scale to try to force engagement to happen, the company just could not help themselves, and the exodus continued.

But Musk thought he was special. He thought he would be able to encourage free speech— something he claimed the platform was lacking. He thought he could accomplish this while also making the platform less accessible. Of course, he was wrong. He killed off the free API, and locked out third party apps. He closed off the platform to anyone who is not logged in. He introduced limits on what users who haven't paid for a blue check can see. He eliminated Twitter's most valuable service- content moderation -chasing off the majority of the ad revenue.

Now, Twitter is in ruins, no matter what you call it. Threads is new, and has many users, but is not especially different from Twitter, in terms of access. And if Threads will operate like Twitter did, then I don’t see it gaining traction. If Meta’s plan is to sell data based on engagement, then I have no faith in their ability to keep their finger off the scale. I think it’s only a matter of time before Meta starts forcing optionless users to look at toxic content for the sake of engagement.

At best it will be a closed system like Truth Social serving some niche. At worst it will just taper off into oblivion like the Metaverse.

The new platform's only real advantage is that it's new, but it's poised to make all the same mistakes that cratered Twitter.
Thu, 06 Jul 2023 20:58:58 GMT

I just investigated instagram threads, and found that the platform is mobile-only, accessible only with its official app. That's a complete nonstarter for me. That means that Meta requires from the jump that anyone using the platform agrees to copious data collection and cookie farming, with no visibility of what is being collected, or when. If I can't participate at all from a real computer, and have some control over what background processes and data collection are taking place, then unless it's adopted on a massive scale, I see no value in it, and will not be using it.

I think this is a flawed approach from the start, and will be a failure on the scale of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse embarrassment. Accessibility and content moderation are what make a social media platform valuable. Restricting access to an official app with black-box operations is already a limiter on who will use the platform, and homogenizes the desired discourse by that much.

Twitter and Reddit have worked hard— whether deliberately or accidentally, it is hard to say —to chase away any users who want to just access the platform without installing data collection background processes, and it appears Meta wants in on the game without even knowing how it will(or won’t) work.

The result for Twitter has been a wholesale emptying of its engineering, content moderation, and ad sales staffs, which has resulted in frequent service degradation and outages, and disastrous public failures like the Desantis campaign announcement fiasco. Twitter is unable to keep the lights on. They just declined to pay for another hosting contract with Google, and seemingly as a result, they are now requiring a login for anyone to view any content. I say “as a result” because this move will naturally reduce access to the platform, and reduce the platform’s relevance.

Reddit is a couple days into their recent seismic change. They announced in April that they would start charging for access to their site data, particularly for maintainers of the dozens of outstanding mobile apps made by third parties, at untenable cost. Overnight, almost all of these apps, complete with extremely devoted followings of millions of users, have shuttered. These apps, like the 3rd party apps that Twitter banned with no warning a few months ago, shaped the platform, and made it a valuable online meeting place. A “town square,” if you will.

As a direct result, Reddit is losing most of its volunteer moderators, whose effort makes the platform welcoming to users(ie: valuable), a fact against which Reddit's corporate leadership are sticking their fingers in their ears and holding their eyes shut. The staff that have for years maintained the “ask me anything” feature that has helped define the platform, have announced that they will no longer contribute this valuable service, as Reddit’s leadership have completely ignored and berated criticisms of their seemingly willful destruction of reddit dot com.

I say all this because Meta appears to want to start their new platform from the same user-hostile position where Twitter and Reddit currently sit through their own incompetence, but Meta wants to do it deliberately. And Meta somehow expects it to succeed. I may eat my words on this. It may be that Reddit and Twitter’s failures since making their platforms less accessible and less moderated will somehow not apply to Meta, but I can’t see that right now.

Meta introduced
Fri, 30 Jun 2023 20:26:20 GMT

People I respect a lot have been talking on podcasts, news panels, and editorials about how there needs to be a solution to the sudden problem that’s arisen because of transgender children.

I cannot speak with authority on behalf of transgender people, as I am not myself transgender, and I do not know anyone who openly is. But I do know that transgender people are people, and in this country, people have rights. The most fundamental right anyone has is to be who they are. To live.

But there are people who object to certain people enjoying those rights. They believe that it's sinful not to accept the biological conditions that were present at your birth, citing Christian scripture as a basis, even though there is none. It seems to me that a number of opponents of the rights of LGBTQIA+ people claim that these classifications of gender, sexuality, and identity are taken by choice, and are therefore invalid, given that sex and gender are assigned at birth by examining the genital organs of the newborn.

Many, many people object to this line of reasoning, and claim instead that the the trans identity is something they were born with. This is valid, and probably true in many, most, or even all cases-- again, I'm a straight, white male without any strong connections to communities outside my own experience, so I simply cannot speak authoritatively on the thoughts and lived experiences of "nonconforming" people --but in my opinion, arguing in terms of whether identity is chosen or assigned at birth allows the oppressors to dictate the narrative, because it cedes the extremely flawed point that "chosen versus born this way" is a substantive question to resolve. It's not. It's simply logically unsound in a free society to grant or revoke fundamental rights, based on choice or assigned-at-birth conditions.

Whether someone is born a certain way or chooses a certain way is-- and this is very important --none of your damn business.

It's strategically fraught too, because I honestly have no idea why anybody ever thought the concept of identity choice was a reasonable basis for the belief that an identity can be invalid for someone. As Americans, we are taught and trained that our choices are what make us American. The operative word here is "freedom." Having a choice on one's personal identity is as fundamental of a right as any other right guaranteed in the Constitution.

If someone's choice to be trans is not harmful to anyone else, there is no reasonable basis for legally prohibiting it. With this in mind, the only "transgender issue" in our politics today is that the constituency of bigoted busybodies in the Republican electorate is large enough to prompt Republicans holding or seeking office to pass or support laws that explicitly oppress transgender people. The “issue” is that there are powerful people using cruelty to gain a political advantage. There is no net positive effect of these laws, which is probably why federal judges have been striking them down. It's safe to say there is no net positive effect of any law that takes away the rights of people to do unharmful things.

What these laws do accomplish though is the establishment of a standard and a dividing line. If you support these laws, you are automatically given credibility among America's Christian evangelists who find more in common with Vladimir Putin than with Joe Biden. If you support these laws, these people will vote for you. That's the bottom line. There are deplorables to dance for, so the GOP is all-in on performative oppression. The problem is that nobody seems to be calling it what it is: performative nonsense.

Even people who support transgender rights have been looking in the wrong direction.
Wed, 28 Jun 2023 16:55:12 GMT

Trump was swaggering around the table in an unsecured conference room(ie: definitely not a SCIF) at his golf resort in Bedminster, NJ. He was soaking up the fluffery offered by his sycophants, and running with the assertion by aide Margo Martin that his loss in 2020 was a “coup attempt” by several parties, including Joint Chiefs chairman General Mark Milley.

Trump said in the now-released recording that the existence of a plan for an invasion of Iran is incriminating to General Milley, making the ignorant but predictable claim that because the plan exists under Milley’s chairmanship, that the plan is evidence of Milley’s intent to invade, and that an invasion would have happened if not for the steady hand of Donald Trump.

This is nonsense.

First, Trump did order combat operations against Iranian citizens. That’s not a secret. At least one such operation was carried out at Trump’s explicit command. Milley was in the room when the decision was made, but it was made by the President, and the President famously did not inform any of our allies in advance of the attack, including Iraq, the country in which the attack took place.

Second, the Defense Department has a plan for invading Belgium. They have a plan for attacking the Turks and Caicos Islands. They have a plan for invading Fort Hood. They employ a staff of military experts whose entire job is to generate plans for any scenario, no matter how unlikely it may be, so that when any given scenario comes up as a real problem, the DoD has a plan they can immediately present to the President and/or our allies.

Third, the existence of such a plan does not indicate an intent by the Commander-in-Chief, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or anyone else in the defense hierarchy of the United States to actually carry out any of these invasions. It’s simply an example of the readiness that is demanded of our armed forces.

Not that it matters, but Donald Trump might even know all these things, though I doubt he does. But his charisma lies strongly in telling people what he thinks they want to hear, and in using that charisma to stir his supporters up to oppose any who might challenge his authority or bids for it. The bottom line in the case of this particular document is that Trump is a fool who thinks he can mobilize greater fools to his defense.

TFG wants you to believe that his opponents are hawks, because he's an idiot.
Tue, 27 Jun 2023 20:07:10 GMT

Democratic and otherwise anti-trump political analysts have been beside themselves with frustration lately about how TFG's indictments have not moved the needle in polling in any meaningful way. Trump remains the frontrunner for the GOP nomination by a colossal margin. He shed a couple percentage points, most of which were picked up by Chris Christie, while Ron DeSantis is still working out how to articulate the line, "greetings, fellow humans!" into relatable, believable language.

But the reason Trump's support has barely wavered is because the adoration he gets from his strongest supporters is absolutely unshakeable. He is a messianic figure to them, and they have been conditioned to believe strongly that any criticism of Trump is borne of a deep hatred for America, and is therefore not reliable.

The belief in a "deep state" among Trump's base protects him from all potential criticism, and reinforces his infallibility to them. So when an analyst says something like, "how can these people still stand by him?" I say, "because they don't believe any of the allegations, and never will."

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Trump's supporters aren't concerned about indictments, because everything is a conspiracy