Monthly Archives: November 2016

How the electoral college gerrymanders the presidential vote

By Christopher Ingraham

Kevin Hayes Wilson/Redraw the Districts

Here’s a fun little thought experiment demonstrating the fundamental arbitrariness of the electoral college: Had two state borders been drawn just a little bit differently, shifting a total of four counties from one state to another, Hillary Clinton would have won the election.

Take a look at the imaginary map above, which comes from an nifty online tool called Redraw the States. It was created by Kevin Hayes Wilson, a mathematician and data scientist working in computer science education.

This map moves Lake County, Ill. to Wisconsin, turning that state blue. It moves Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties from the Florida panhandle to neighboring Alabama. That’s enough to turn Florida blue. With victories in Wisconsin and Florida, Clinton squeaks to victory in the electoral college, 270 to 268.

Exact same votes, slightly different borders, radically different outcome: the capriciousness of the electoral college laid bare.

[This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see]

After the election, a former classmate posed Hayes a question: How stable are the electoral college results under small changes of geography? That is, how much of Donald Trump’s electoral college victory is attributable to the odd quirks of geography or history that are baked into our country’s state and county borders?

The answer, Hayes found, is “quite a lot.”

To arrive at this answer, Hayes built his interactive border-drawing thought experiment. It allows you to select any number of counties and move them to a different state to see how the electoral results would shake out under those borders.

Recall that the electoral college system is mostly winner-take-all (Maine and Nebraska are the exceptions, assigning most of their electors by congressional district). In Illinois, …read more


This could be the first big test of whether Donald Trump can keep his campaign promises

By Max Ehrenfreund

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for his election night rally at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Donald Trump arrives for his election night rally at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

On Thanksgiving Day, President-elect Donald Trump hinted he is in contact with Carrier, a manufacturing company that has been in the spotlight for plans to move 2,000 jobs from Indiana to Mexico.

I am working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier A.C. Company to stay in the U.S. (Indiana). MAKING PROGRESS – Will know soon!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 24, 2016

The tweet followed a pledge during the campaign to stop Carrier from moving the jobs overseas, which Trump made after a viral video circulated of Carrier officials announcing the job losses earlier this year. “It’s not like we have an 80 percent chance of keeping them or a 95 percent. One-hundred percent,” Trump said at a rally in Indianapolis in April.

Whether the president-elect succeeds will be one of the first big tests of whether he will be able to stick by his campaign promises. It also is a window into the unusual new world of a president-elect intervening on behalf of workers at one company that, though important in the communities it operates in, is small in the context of the entire economy.

Local politicians regularly meet with corporate leaders to negotiate tax credits and other incentives to encourage businesses to locate in a particular jurisdiction, but modern presidents have typically not micromanaged the economy in this way.

“It basically violates the notion of ‘The free market knows best,’ ” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “It’s an unusual thing for a Republican, that’s for sure.”

Mishel described the negotiations as “an important test” for Trump — of whether he can fulfill his bold promises to voters through a combination of …read more


The best Cyber Monday deals online

If Black Friday marks the official start of the holiday shopping season, Cyber Monday is when things get serious. That’s when Americans trade trips to the mall for shopping online, and retailers start dropping discounts on popular gifts….

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