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Posts published in “notes”

Notes . . .

notes

Two new U.S. senators were sworn in Wednesday - Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota - both arriving after presence in part of a national political firestorm. Jones' election as a Democrat from Alabama is remarkable, but Smith's entry to the Senate is the one that sets a statistical record. She becomes the 22nd woman in the U.S. Senate, marking the largest number of women ever to serve there.

That simply brings ther Senate more or less into line with the rest of American politics, because the 20 percent mark is about where women are in politics nationally.

The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University has looked at the numbers, and as a matter of percentage here is the female membership of various elective cadres:

• Senate - 22%.

• House of Representatives - 19%.

• Statewide elected officials (including governors) - 24%.

• Mayors (100 largest cities) - 22%.

• State legislatures - 25%.

The across the board similarity is remarkable.

And it may rise across the board a year from now. - rs
 

Happy New Year!

And welcome to 2018. Before we welcome another year in another 365 days, we should have quite a bit to discuss. We'll be back to get it started tomorrow.

Enjoy!
 

Notes . . .

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One of the big Idaho headlines this last week concerned the new Census estimates for growth in population, by state, over the last year. This year's report shows Idaho growing faster than any other state, which may be a first.

That's significant for what it says about the state's overall trajectory. But Oregon, which didn't have quite so large a percentage increase, may have the more significant result out of this: The high probability, now, of getting an additional congressional district.

Oregon came close to a new one in 2010 but didn't quite cross the line. It has been on track over the last few years, but just barely. Now, its population increase is strong enough compared to other states that it well within the line for a new district.

Election Data Services, which tracks much of this, said that

The Bureau’s [Census] 2017 total population estimates shows that now 12 states will be impacted by changes in their congressional delegation if these new numbers were used for apportionment today. The state of Colorado joins the previously indicated states of Florida, North Carolina, and Oregon to each gain a single seat while the state of Texas is now shown to gain a second seat with the new data. The states of New York and West Virginia joins the states of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania to lose a seat in Congress using the new data.
... Idaho is the nation’s fastest growing state in the past year, followed by Nevada and Utah. But this population growth has not impacted these state’s congressional allocation, at least not yet. The 2017 numbers show Idaho would stay at two seats, and miss gaining an additional seat by 118,406 people. But projecting the numbers forward to 2020 using the short-term methodology shows Idaho only 30,824 away from gaining a third seat. All the population projection methodologies keep the state of Nevada at four seats and sufficiently away from any margins of a fifth possible seat. Utah is similar in that it would take more than 125,000 extra people for the state to gain a fifth district.

 

Notes . . .

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Back in my original home stomping grounds of Newport News, Virginia, we see the most on-point argument I think I've ever seen for the importance of every single vote.

We get used to the idea that our vote is one of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or millions. But those millions of votes are but collections of one vote at a time. And even one can be decisive.

In Virginia, the politically interested have been on tenterhooks for more than a month, since the November general election, to learn what happened in the state House of Delegates elections. Entering the elections, Republicans held just short of a two-to-one advantage in the chamber. A blue tide swept through last month, wiping away so many Republicans that Democrats were brought to the edge of controlling the chamber - an astonishing reversal of the sort hardly any state has seen, on behalf of either party, in decades.

Three of those races were so close that recounts were ordered. Yesterday one of the last of them came in, and when the counting was done Democrat Shelly Simonds defeated long-time Republican incumbent David Yancey 11,608 to 11,607 - the margin of one vote, which in turn gave Democrats 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, enough to force split control.

(It was, FYI, the legislative district where I lived for my first 18 years. A photo of a chart showing vote changes by precinct brought up some familiar names; my old precinct of Deep Creek showed no changes, but several nearby did. Back in high school, I did a little campaign volunteering for a contender for this same delegate seat.)

(Secondary note: There remains the possibility a Democrat may pick up yet one more seat, giving that party the majority, but that looks like a long shot.)

Remember: Every vote counts. Never doubt it . . . - rs

UPDATE And now another vote is in, and it's gone to a tie. Wow.
 

Notes . . .

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The Oregonian's list of top 10 business stories for the year makes for a mashup worthy of some thought. Thins that might seem to go together, or run in conflict, sometimes don't.

For the year:

Intel has been struggling with the declining desktop (and laptop) computer market for its chips. But, even as it investigates some still-speculative options, stock prices continue to climb. Overall area stock prices continued well, even as Nike got a string of bad marketing news this year.

Intel cut both ways with the new administration this year: "Intel CEO Brian Krzanich spent the early part of the year courting President Donald Trump, even visiting him in the Oval Office. He then spent the rest of the 2017 retreating, denouncing the new president’s actions on immigration and climate change." Later, Krzanich resigned from the administration's new manufacturing group.

The unemployment rate hit record lows. But in the Portland area, the minimum wage rose to $11.25, part of a regional push upward in those wages.

A major new development in Portland's downtown was slated with a new building for Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University. But higher education continued to struggle with weak state funding.

The pieces aren't fitting together cleanly. See: 2018. - rs
 

Notes . . .

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Got a call today about a column from a few weeks back relating to a polling result in an Idaho contest. The point of the call was, there's reason to think the poll result was flawed.

Which may be fair enough. No one polling approach is perfect, and some are more flawed than others. The best approach in analyzing them is to compare and contrast and maybe draw averages, from a bunch of polls. That presents a problem in a place like Idaho, where not a lot of polls are conducted, and many of those that are will be done for private parties. (Beware of putting too much certainty into private polls.)

This may be grist for a column . . .

But in mulling over the subject, I spotted a new Nate Silver article on polling, always worth the review, pointing out the wide disparity in pollster results in the upcoming Alabama Senate race. Recent polls have shown everything from a Roy Moore win by nine points to a Doug Jones win by 10.

Most illuminating, though, is an online poll done by the company Survey Monkey, which actually shows that full range of prospective results using the same set of information - the same data set. Political pollsters generally don't run out the data they receive unfiltered; usually they weight it so the response base they receive matches the local demographics and political leanings. It usually works, sort of.

But the Survey Monkey results show just how much the "polling results" vary depending on what kind of assumptions you attach to it. If you use standard demographic weights and count responses from all available registered voters who will certainly or probably vote, then Jones is ahead by nine points. If you use a standard set of demographic weights filtered through the 2016 results, and counting people who voted in 2014 (with newcomer certain voters added), then Moore wins by 10 points.

So what happens tomorrow? Hey, no predictions here . . . -rs
 

Notes . . .

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Ascribing specific motives where they're not entirely clear is an uncertain proposition, and I won't here make a pronouncement on President Trump's announcement about (eventually) relocating the American embassy to Jerusalem.

I can't read the president's mind. But some speculation does seem warranted.

His rationale for the move is foggy at best: “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.” It is one of the thinnest presidential rationales for a significant action I can recall.

Is there a more substantive reason? An Atlantic article by Peter Beinart suggests there might be:

For Donald Trump, Muslim barbarism is a political strategy. It inspires the fear and hatred that binds him to his base. Muslim barbarism is so politically useful, in fact, that, when necessary, Trump creates it.

The hours after his announcement saw uproar among Muslims around the world and especially in the Middle East. That was completely predictable, and predicted. Meanwhile, any actual embassy move would not happen for years at the earliest, possibly three to four years. But the outrage has been stoked, and will boil over soon enough. It will deepen the despair - Beinart's word, and others too - in the Palestinian community, and essentially trash any attempt to reach a settlement between the Israeli and Palestinian communities.

Why would this be something Trump (or anyone) would want?

Beinart concludes this way: "Religious conflicts, like racial and ethnic ones, are critical to Trump’s appeal. He needs Mexican-Americans to rape and murder white girls. He needs African-American athletes to “disrespect the flag.” And he needs Muslims to explode bombs and burn American flags. The more threatening non-white, non-Christians appear, both at home and abroad, the more his supporters rely on him to keep the barbarians down and out. If Trump has to invent these dangers, he will. In the case of Jerusalem, however, he can go further: He can help create them."

If there's a better explanation for Trump's action, I'm waiting to hear it. - rs
 

Notes . . .

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There's a completely reasonable argument - and I'd agree with it - that many women who have been sexually harassed and abused haven't been given a reasonable hearing when they report what has happened, and many have been discouraged from doing so. And many egregious predators have been at it for years as a result.

This is all fair enough. But stretch it out far enough and it turns into a witch hunt, and will lead to blowback and discrediting of the original, entirely reasonable, point. Anyone who wants justice for women who have been abused over the years should guard against things going too far.

The Garrison Keillor case, for example, based at least on what we know of it publicly. This is ready-made for blowback. Who among us hasn't done something, on occasion, to irritate someone else? (I get a little irked when I hear a waitress say "honey" or "sweetie", but I'm not going to file a complaint over it.)

And don't think that the recent poll gains by Roy Moore are unconnected to this.

Time to start working out wher the lines are, where something is a serious, obviously-wrong offense, and where something is just irksome or annoying. There is a difference. And not only people's livelihoods but our basic ability to get along with each other may be at stake here.

Be it noted that this finance bill working itsway through Congress is in no shape or form tax "reform." Reform suggersts changes that are made with the idea of improvement; this bill improves matters only for people who will not meaningfully benefit at all from it, and will damage conditions for almost everyone else, the overwhelming majority of people in our society.

This idea is not particularly unusual or one-sided. It appears to be very broadly accepted across mot of American society. - rs

 

Notes . . .

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Mostly, media companies will run political ads excepting in the most extreme cases, involving distasteful imagery, potential libel and so forth. None of that excuses the reported failure by a billboard firm to refuse a tastefully-designed and clearly pertinent billboard aimed at Senate candidate Roy Moore.

(Of course, this isn't the first time Moore has been at the center of a billboard controversy, either. And be it noted: I've seen a specific reference as to what company has denied the billboard placement, or what its side of this might be.)

A Tweet reposted the image (seen here) and commented, "It would be a shame if god-forbid it went viral on social media and was seen by even more people than the actual billboard would have been." Wouldn't it, though . . .