Why Would Any Candidate Forsake a Data-Driven Turnout Operation?

by Jim Geraghty

Tuesday, Donald Trump announced he won’t be using “the kind of sophisticated data operation that was a centerpiece of Barack Obama’s winning White House runs.”

“I’ve always felt it was overrated,” Trump said. “Obama got the votes much more so than his data processing machine. And I think the same is true with me.”

Someone tell me – what’s the downside of having a sophisticated data operation to identify, target, persuade and mobilize voters? The Democrats’ analysis of what went right for them in 2008 concluded that registered voters contacted by the member groups of Catalyst, their primary data analysis company, turned out at a rate of 74.6 percent; the voters who weren’t turned out in proportions roughly equivalent to the national average — about 60.4 percent.

Then in 2012, when the traditional turnout models forecast a Romney win, the Obama campaign went out and did it again. They went out and found unregistered voters who would be likely to vote for them and got them registered and mobilized:

“Most striking is the net gain numbers, which factor in newly registered voters, party switchers and removes people who are no longer voters in Florida. Since January, the Florida Democratic Party has had a net gain of 415,580 voters, while the Republican Party of Florida has only gained 169,841. This shows that the gap between Democrats and Republicans in Florida has grown by 245,739 voters this year alone.”

A thorough demographic breakdown of the new Florida voters registered through Sept. 30 provided to the Huffington Post showed that 149,562, or 18.6 percent of this year’s new registrants are African-American. That rate runs ahead of the US Census’ 2006 estimation that African Americans represent 15.8 percent of Florida’s population — perhaps revealing that the Obama campaign’s attempt to register black voters at historic, potentially game-changing rates might have paid some dividends.

Then throughout the fall campaign they knew exactly where they stood in just about every demographic imaginable: 

The analytics team used four streams of polling data to build a detailed picture of voters in key states. In the past month, said one official, the analytics team had polling data from about 29,000 people in Ohio alone — a whopping sample that composed nearly half of 1% of all voters there — allowing for deep dives into exactly where each demographic and regional group was trending at any given moment. This was a huge advantage: when polls started to slip after the first debate, they could check to see which voters were changing sides and which were not.

“We were much calmer than others,” said one of the officials. The polling and voter-contact data were processed and reprocessed nightly to account for every imaginable scenario. “We ran the election 66,000 times every night,” said a senior official, describing the computer simulations the campaign ran to figure out Obama’s odds of winning each swing state. “And every morning we got the spit-out — here are your chances of winning these states. And that is how we allocated resources.”

This isn’t to say a data-driven turnout operation is a magic bullet; it’s a tool. In a close race, it could be decisive, but most years it is just going to be one of many factors. But why would Donald Trump, or any other candidate not want to have this tool? Even if Trump thinks he doesn’t need it, wouldn’t any little turnout nudge be helpful for any down-ticket Republican? (Ah, there’s my mistake. Trump doesn’t care about down-ticket Republicans.)

After 2012, Republicans looked at the Obama campaign’s data-driven turnout operation and said, “we need one of those.” Why are they choosing to un-learn one of the big lessons of the most recent defeat?

Chevron’s Oily Foes

by Jack Fowler

NR has documented the many escapades of the Leftist cabal that has tried to shake down oil giant Chevron for billions of dollars over contrived environmental screw-ups in Ecuador, a massive fraud that has backfired in many ways. You will pardon the schadenfreude.

It’s funny how scandals overlap: The New York Post is reporting that mayoral press secretary Karen Hinton is bailing on Bill de Blasio’s administration, which is now starting to sink in investigations over major campaign-contribution shenanigans. Hinton “plans to return to her prior gig of working with Ecuadorians in a drawn-out lawsuit against Chevron.”

Welcome back, Karen. We refer Corner readers to Kevin Williamson’s 2014 report on how Ms. Hinton — the onetime mouthpiece for trial lawyer Steven Donziger (the mastermind, if you can really call him that, behind the scheme to turn Chevron into the Left’s ATM) and for Andrew Cuomo, when the New York governor rode roughshod over America as HUD secretary for Bill Clinton — tried to negotiate a 5 percent take on the billions that would come from an expected judgment against Chevron (plus this relative pittance: a $10,000 monthly retainer for her Chevron-bashing services).

Don’t you just love how these social warriors operate? Sue for those allegedly harmed, with the codicil that the result better also be your personal Powerball. Well, let’s see what Karen has to say. Stay tuned.

Judge Rejects Brief Defending Astorino’s Free Speech

by Stanley Kurtz

Last Thursday, May 5, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote of the District of Southern New York refused to consider a friend of the court brief presented by the Center for Individual Rights (CIR) on behalf of Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, the nation’s most prominent local critic of the Obama administration’s housing policies. CIR’s brief argues that a “federal monitor” appointed by President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is unconstitutionally attempting to interfere with Astorino’s First Amendment rights to free speech, and violating the constitutional principles of federalism and the separation of powers as well.

Although it is too early to say with certainty what the judge’s refusal to consider CIR’s brief means, this development raises real concerns. The case itself also tells us a lot about the threats to free speech in this country right now, and about the Obama administration’s stunningly radical housing policies.

I’ll get to the substance of CIR’s powerful brief on behalf of Astorino’s free speech rights below, and also to what the judge’s refusal to consider the brief might mean. But first consider some background.

The Obama administration’s housing policies are arguably its most radically transformative—and most underreported—policy initiatives. Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule spells the end of local government as we know it in the United States, and the creation of a federally-controlled “regional” system in its place.

If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, AFFH will be fully entrenched and our federalist system will be a thing of the past. The federal government will force the zoning and planning policies of your locality to favor dense development, and Washington will begin to dictate where Americans live by race, ethnicity, and class. Suburbs and even towns and small cities will increasingly be turned into helpless satellites of large regional urban centers.

Keep reading this post . . .

Hillary’s Campaign Cites Close Swing State Polls in Fundraising E-Mail

by Jim Geraghty

How seriously is the Hillary Clinton campaign treating yesterday’s Quinnipiac swing-state polls? Serious enough to cite them in a fundraising e-mail:

Friend –

You know how I feel about public polls — they’re erratic and unreliable, especially when you look at a general election match-up this far from Election Day. But a new poll came out yesterday of three key battleground states, and I need you to see it:

Florida: Clinton 43, Trump 42 Ohio: Clinton 39, Trump 43 Pennsylvania: Clinton 43, Trump 42 Source: Quinnipiac

I can’t say this enough times: These polls don’t predict the future. We can change them by making sure voters know about Hillary’s vision for our country. But we need to get started RIGHT NOW.

Will you chip in to be one of the first to support our new Battleground Fund? (When you do, we’ll send you a free sticker so you can show off your support!) Your donation could be the difference in one of those key states on Election Day:



Robby Mook

Campaign Manager, Hillary for America

Ten Things that Caught My Eye Today (May 11, 2016)

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

At noon today, Fr. Douglas Bazi will be among those speaking at the Heritage Foundation for an event co-hosted by the National Review Institute.  (Read about him here and here.) Join us in person at Heritage or online by livestream. All details here.

1. ISIS car bomb kills “dozens” in Baghdad.


3. Lord have mercy. 

Keep reading this post . . .

A Trump Win Defeats Obama and Hillary, but Also Costs Us Liberty

by Jim Geraghty

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

What a Trump Win Costs Us

Sure, a Trump victory would leave Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the entire Democratic party in utter despair — and if you’re a conservative, that thought probably makes you smile!

The problem is that I don’t want a less leftist version of Obama’s executive-order-prone, Congress-ignoring, government-expanding, tax-hiking, IRS-abusing presidency. I want limited government, smaller and less expensive government, more individual liberty, and a strict adherence to the limits on government power enshrined in the Constitution. I want Rick Perry’s vision of a Washington, D.C., that is less and less relevant to the lives of average Americans.* Ultimately, I want politics to reverse the intense entanglement from pop culture that started with MTV’s “Rock the Vote” in 1992 and go back to being the land of the nerds and policy wonks — leaving governing to the people who actually care about the issues at hand. Make Politics Boring Again!

Even if a President Trump moved American policy generally rightward — far from a sure bet — it would probably come at great cost in liberty. Brad Thor, best-selling author and friend of the Morning Jolt, offers his thoughts on the choice before us:

My greatest concern about Donald Trump, though, isn’t a trait he lacks, but a dangerous one he poses – in spades. Authoritarianism.

Confident people do not bully and demean others. That is the realm of the weak and insecure. Confident people also do not threaten others, especially not their fellow citizens.

Donald Trump has told us to just wait and see what he does to Jeff Bezos once he gets into the White House. He has told us the American military will do whatever he tells them to do no matter what their reservations. He has promised to prevent American companies from moving outside the United States, regardless of what they believe is best for their businesses.

In other words, Donald Trump has clearly told all of us that he will use the power of the presidency to force people to bend to his will. This is not liberty.

In fact, Donald Trump has never even spoken about liberty. Neither has he spoken about the Constitution and the Founding documents. This is an absolute first in the history of the United States.

Instead, Donald Trump talks about hiring the “best people” and making the “best deals.” This, though, isn’t what made America great, and it certainly isn’t what will return America to its prominence.

The blueprint for America’s success is the ideas of the Framers – limited, Constitutional governance – an area in which Donald Trump is criminally ignorant.

Let me be clear that I don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. I also don’t want to vote for Donald Trump. My preference is to write-in or vote third party. I think they are both terrible for our future.

But between a big government progressive and a potential despot – every American must ask themselves where liberty has the greatest chance to survive over the next four years.

By the way, Trump fans, once you start posting people’s home addresses and home phone numbers on Twitter, you’re no longer fighting for liberty. You’re us­ing implied threats and the force of the mob to bend somebody else to your will. You’re replacing forced obedience to the state with forced obedience to you.

* Yes, I know Rick Perry pulled a Jindal and endorsed Trump, after denouncing him repeatedly, passionately, and thoroughly in the primary. The simplest ex­plan­a­tion, from where I sit, is some sort of head injury to the former governor.

Trumpian Echoes from Abroad

by Conrad Black

From my most recent NRO article, on some analogies to Trumpism in the wider world: “The Trump phenomenon is not as freakish as both its foreign and its domestic enemies claim. . . . All the advanced world is to some extent moved by similar forces of public revulsion at the political status quo.”

Whether you agree or disagree, your comments are, as always, most welcome.

Dutch MDs “Treat” Sex Abuse Victim with Euthanasia

by Wesley J. Smith

How bad is euthanasia in the Netherlands? This bad. From the Daily Mail story:

A former victim of child sex abuse has ended her life under Dutch euthanasia laws because she could not live with her mental suffering.

The woman, in her twenties, was given a lethal injection after doctors and psychiatrists decided that her post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions were incurable.

It went ahead despite improvements in the woman’s psychological condition after ‘intensive therapy’ two years ago, and even though doctors in the Netherlands accept that a demand for death from a psychiatric patient may be no more than a cry for help.

Compassion! Choice! Death with Dignity! My right nostril.