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Our Weak 21st Century Presidential Elections


vcczar
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Note: See my previous posts on Pres Elections or you might get confused as to what this post is about. 

I had mentioned that recent elections are historically weak victories, rather than great victories, mostly due to polarization. 

Since most of you are mostly interested in 21st century elections, here's what makes them "weak."

Note: I've updated the scores as I've added 4 more categories, so these scores will not be the same as they were in the previous posts. 

  • 2000 Election - Bush def. Gore (-30 pts)
    • Major negative points for low Electoral Votes % 
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) popular vote%
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) PV margin vs other major party%
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) voter turnout-to-PV margin
  • 2004 Election - Bush def. Kerry (-4 pts)
    • Minor negative points for low Electoral Votes %
  • 2008 Election - Obama def. McCain (-2 pts; had been 0 pts in previous update)
    • Minor negative points for high % of states lost by margin of 10%+
      • I was most shocked to find that Obama's "landslide" scored zero positive points. It just wasn't a landslide by historical standards. It IS a landslide by 21st century standards because of the low bar caused by polarization. 
  • 2012 Election - Obama def. Romney (-14 pts)
    • Minor negative points for low % of states won
    • Major negative points for high % of states lost by margin of 10%+ 
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) +/- when subtracting states lost by +10% from those won by +10%
    • Minor negative points for low (even negative) turnout-to-polarized +10 states +/-
  • 2016 Election - Trump def. Clinton (-22 pts)
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) popular vote%
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) margin vs other major party%
    • Minor negative points for high % of states lost by a margin of 10%+
    • Major negative points for high (even negative) voter turnout-to-PV margin
  • 2020 Election - Biden def. Trump (-15 pts)
    • Major negative points for low% of states won
    • Minor Positive points for victory in an election with historically high turnout
    • Major negative points for high% of states lost by a margin of 10%+
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) +/- when subtracting states lost by +10% from those won by +10%
    • Minor negative points for low (even negative) turnout-to-polarized +10 states +/-

Biden's historically high turnout out victory is the only 21st century "positive" for determining a "great victory." These are all weak election victories. 1992-2020 shows 8-straight negative scores, the longest streak in US history, whether positive or negative. Bush '88 got 6 pts. Reagan '84 got 46 pts. 

 

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46 minutes ago, Dobs said:

I thought it was 27?

If you see my original post, I added some new categories. Reagan does really well in these new categories. I’ll add more categories of you can think of any that might shed light on electoral strength. 

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50 minutes ago, Hestia said:

Biden seems low for defeating an incumbent President. Maybe points for winning as a challenger? 

Okay, I added something that can give points for historically great and good victories vs an incumbent. I've also added something for historically great victories as an incumbent (since it's a referendum) and penalties for having a very weak victory as an incumbent.

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3 minutes ago, Patine said:

Well, a growing and blossoming political culture of scare tactics and exaggerated, exacerbated, manipulated facts on issues can't lead to anything, "positive," in elections of this era, can they, at least relatively speaking?

Yeah, it's going to be interesting if some sort of breakthrough is made to make things less polarizing. It might be because Social Media+Politics is still in some sort of early marriage and maybe things will settle down. I don't know. 

Back when we were younger, we'd get our news via newspaper and nightly news. Politics wasn't really that "in your face." Now, it's almost unavoidable. The issue with that is that one has less time to reflect on news and politics before something new is broadcast. Breaking News was a big thing that happened occasionally, not something that happened every 10 to 15 minutes. 

I do kind of miss the mystery of the news in the newspaper era. One woke up to check the newspaper to see how the day had changed in the last 24 hours. There's definitely a downside to that and an upside to instant news, but there was something fun about the newspaper era that is lost. 

I'm not being too nostalgic. I tend to think the future is almost always 5 steps forward and 3 steps back, which means it is generally going the right direction. I never want a return to the past. I also don't think Social Media is in a stagnant place where this is what it's always going to be like, either. 

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1 hour ago, Patine said:

I remember, a couple years ago, back on 270soft, I was complaining about the overexposure and constant news coverage - even things that weren't really, "news," - of Donald Trump, and how you saw his face online and in the news about SOMETHING EVERYDAY. I pointed out that in my youth, in the '80's, Reagan was only in the news, at most, once a week or two, when relevant. And then @DakotaHale (then ThePotatoWalrus) pops up and says, "there is no way a great President like Reagan didn't get the same coverage in his day that Trump gets now. You probably just a skewed view from Canada." But given only four networks in the U.S. back then did national news - ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN - as Fox, Fox News, TBS and TNT (or whatever they became), MSNBC, etc. didn't exist, and purely local networks did only local news back then, there was no American national news coverage at the time my cable package couldn't pick up. Funny how that perspective goes.

In @DakotaHale’s defense, Reagan probably got a lot of “free press” relative to his time. Probably more than any presidential candidate before Obama. However, no candidate has ever had the amount of free press as Trump. Not even close. It’s constant. Everywhere. This is no slight to Reagan. He just wasn’t in an age of social media. Kerry got more free press than Reagan probably. Trump’s polarization and controversy added to social media just make him more likely to gain free press every hour. I don’t think anyone will beat Trump for free press until something more “In your face every second” than social media is created. Trump would not have even won the primaries without social media. 

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3 minutes ago, DakotaHale said:

@vcczar what would Gore's point total be if he won Florida by 500 votes instead of Bush?

Not sure. Not at CPU but probably about the same. His PV is better so maybe slightly better but he will have done so having lost more states and by larger margins in those states. I’d guess about 5 pts better. 

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The 2008 Obama was surprising to me as well. Until the map really starts to shift, that is likely the high point for modern politics (in terms of margin for both PV and EV).

I guess these trend point to the increasing party-bound polarization. People are becoming more associated with their parties than ever (which is ironic because one could argue that party power is decreasing over time).

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Just now, jvikings1 said:

The 2008 Obama was surprising to me as well. Until the map really starts to shift, that is likely the high point for modern politics (in terms of margin for both PV and EV).

I guess these trend point to the increasing party-bound polarization. People are becoming more associated with their parties than ever (which is ironic because one could argue that party power is decreasing over time).

Obama and Biden are tied for having lost the highest % of states by 10+% margins and still won with 39%. Their states of support with 10+% is in the mid 20%. Naturally, the former are likely low population states so it isn’t too embarrassing. They had good PV victories which is more indicative of popular support. 

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11 hours ago, vcczar said:

Note: See my previous posts on Pres Elections or you might get confused as to what this post is about. 

I had mentioned that recent elections are historically weak victories, rather than great victories, mostly due to polarization. 

Since most of you are mostly interested in 21st century elections, here's what makes them "weak."

Note: I've updated the scores as I've added 4 more categories, so these scores will not be the same as they were in the previous posts. 

  • 2000 Election - Bush def. Gore (-30 pts)
    • Major negative points for low Electoral Votes % 
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) popular vote%
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) PV margin vs other major party%
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) voter turnout-to-PV margin
  • 2004 Election - Bush def. Kerry (-4 pts)
    • Minor negative points for low Electoral Votes %
  • 2008 Election - Obama def. McCain (-2 pts; had been 0 pts in previous update)
    • Minor negative points for high % of states lost by margin of 10%+
      • I was most shocked to find that Obama's "landslide" scored zero positive points. It just wasn't a landslide by historical standards. It IS a landslide by 21st century standards because of the low bar caused by polarization. 
  • 2012 Election - Obama def. Romney (-14 pts)
    • Minor negative points for low % of states won
    • Major negative points for high % of states lost by margin of 10%+ 
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) +/- when subtracting states lost by +10% from those won by +10%
    • Minor negative points for low (even negative) turnout-to-polarized +10 states +/-
  • 2016 Election - Trump def. Clinton (-22 pts)
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) popular vote%
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) margin vs other major party%
    • Minor negative points for high % of states lost by a margin of 10%+
    • Major negative points for high (even negative) voter turnout-to-PV margin
  • 2020 Election - Biden def. Trump (-15 pts)
    • Major negative points for low% of states won
    • Minor Positive points for victory in an election with historically high turnout
    • Major negative points for high% of states lost by a margin of 10%+
    • Major negative points for low (even negative) +/- when subtracting states lost by +10% from those won by +10%
    • Minor negative points for low (even negative) turnout-to-polarized +10 states +/-

Biden's historically high turnout out victory is the only 21st century "positive" for determining a "great victory." These are all weak election victories. 1992-2020 shows 8-straight negative scores, the longest streak in US history, whether positive or negative. Bush '88 got 6 pts. Reagan '84 got 46 pts. 

 

I'm surprised concerning Obama '08.  Turnout was high, and he clearly did well...

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