Election Takes and Links, 11/11/22
RIP Kirill Stremousov, the start of the Trump-DeSantis war, Fetterman as a future presidential candidate, No Nut November, and more
So it looks like polls can be trusted after all! I return to my 2020 take and renounce my last week take. On Monday, I gave a talk at the Salem Center on this topic. At least I never bought into the right-wing hopium, and gave Republicans only a 65% chance of taking the Senate. At Salem, I made the case for why the polls might be right this time, and mentioned the abortion issue. I also mentioned that I didn’t think that the Republican-leaning pollsters had some secret sauce in 2016 and 2020, but were mostly just putting their thumbs on the scale and got lucky. The idea that you should stop paying attention to them is too strong and a small-minded partisan take. The philosophy of FiveThirtyEight, relying on the average of what polls are available and hoping they balance out, had a very good night. A hint of what was coming could’ve been inferred from a NYT experiment where they offered people in Wisconsin $25 to take a poll and found Republicans only gaining a point or two, despite them getting the response rate up from 1% to 30%.
Putting Republicans odds of taking the Senate at 65% meant that I couldn’t really be too wrong either way. My main prediction regarding where conventional wisdom and markets are wrong on electoral politics is on the question of whether Biden will be the Democratic nominee in 2024. He’s gone from 33% to 38% on PredictIt since Tuesday, although I think that’s still way too low. I’m giving it an 80% chance of happening, so my forecasting reputation will have more on the line in the 2024 Democratic primaries than it did in this last election.
Of course, it was also a good night for DeSantis. Between his overwhelming victory and Fetterman going to the Senate, I think we have good evidence that “elites” (that is, those of us who read and write about politics) don’t have good intuitions regarding what kinds of characters normal people find appealing. But DeSantis has taken what was the largest swing state in the country, one that is 40% non-white, and made it reliably red during his tenure, an amazing accomplishment with no recent precedent in American politics. Ezra Klein says an incumbent governor winning in a very red state by a large margin isn’t that impressive, but this ignores the fact that Florida was evenly divided when DeSantis first got elected, and it has shifted right under his leadership. Maybe that’s a coincidence, but maybe not. There isn’t an obvious alternative explanation for what has happened. The narrative in 2020 centered around a Latino shift towards Republicans, but in 2022 we’re talking about this as being more of a Florida phenomenon than something that is happening nationwide to any large extent. Overall, I’d advise Republicans not to judge DeSantis’ electability based on their gut instincts, but to look at results.
I still think Trump is the favorite in 2024, but DeSantis is catching up. Electability can be very important for partisans. There’s good evidence that this drove Democrats to select Biden as their nominee in 2020. Yet the Republican base seems different, and willing to go all in on flawed candidates without thinking through the consequences. So we’ll see. Trump has fired the opening shots in the coming war, claiming that he used the FBI to help DeSantis win in 2018, apparently the only time they followed the president’s orders and weren’t hatching Deep State plots against him.
Fetterman’s victory almost makes me reconsider my newfound respect for liberal democracy. But voters work in mysterious ways. Better not to question it – focus on policy, and defer to the masses regarding issues of aesthetics and personality, no matter how ugly the results. Speaking of which, I wouldn’t be shocked if Fetterman at some point becomes talked about as someone who can be on a presidential ticket, assuming he fully recovers from his recent stroke. A friend said to me that Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania after Trump overperformed in that state can be seen as a case of “live by the working class, die by them.”
1. Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-appointed official in Kherson that I was sort of obsessed with, has died in a car crash (or “car crash”) amidst the recent retreat across the Dnieper.
The region's Moscow-installed administration head, Vladimir Saldo, announced the death Wednesday on the Telegram social media app, calling Stremousov, his acting deputy governor and occupation spokesman, "one of the brightest."
There were no further details about the reported death.
Stremousov, Ukrainian by birth, was a 45-year-old pro-Russian propagandist known for posting voluminous videos — often from his car…
Stremousov had a colorful, eccentric past. In a video he posted on YouTube in 2017, he holds his infant daughter by the arm and leg and swings her around as a form of what he calls exercise, which sparked accusations online of child abuse.
Stremousov ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Kherson and the Ukrainian parliament, and became a well-known opponent of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If he was “one of the brightest” in their war effort, you can see why the Russian invasion has gone as well as it has.
2. The popular appetite for schmaltz should never be underestimated. This cracked me up.
3. Rob Henderson on why he is so famous. This is more of an article about how he became famous. I think an actual account of why would have been interesting, though that’s something that’s hard to write without sounding very immodest.
4. Does porn cause ED? Probably not. I left the following comment though on the broader question at stake.
I agree that the “science” of no-nut November is ridiculous, but it’s an interesting question why there’s a seemingly universal tendency to stigmatize masturbation. It would be strange if it didn’t have any logic to it. I would guess that, even if porn doesn’t give you ED, it satiates a desire you should ideally get from elsewhere. If masturbating two times a day makes you 10% less likely to approach an attractive woman you might want a relationship with because why bother, it could have disastrous long term consequences for a man’s life.
5. Profile of Doug Ducey, who accomplished a great deal as governor of Arizona, including signing a bill creating the nation’s first universal school choice program. Had no idea he helped build Cold Stone Creamery. Bringing ice cream and candy together, providing joy to those of us with self-control while making Americans fatter and taking away their precious social safety net programs. My ideal leader.
6. Profile of DeSantis as a young high school teacher. Of course, since it’s The New York Times, the article is required by law to have a black woman accusing him of subconscious racism and making her feel invisible. But it otherwise portrays him as well-liked and a genuinely good guy.