Controversy at FiveThirtyEight
Plus: Reading the tea leaves on older (and younger) voters, the decline of bellwether counties, and the new abortion voter.
No. 273 | June 30, 2023
@NateSilver538: Very bad to do a Spanish Inquisition with pollsters based on their political orientation. I love my ex-colleagues (this is coming from a new guy they hired) but if this is their practice, hope ABC will stop use of 538 brand so it isn't associated with me.(Twitter)
Nathaniel Rakich: Introducing Our Brand-New Polling Averages (FiveThirtyEight)
“As you may have heard, there have been some changes at FiveThirtyEight recently. While it will be strange around here without our founder Nate Silver, his models and his oddly strong opinions about states, there are also some things that aren’t going away: namely, our commitment to rigorous data journalism and our mountains of polling data and trackers.
In fact, we’re planning on adding even more of those polling trackers. Today, we’re releasing new polling averages of three Republican presidential candidates’ favorability ratings. We’re also launching brand-new versions of our trackers of approval polls for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris; national polls of the 2024 Republican presidential primary; and favorability polls for former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.”
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Nate Cohn: Are Democrats Actually Winning Older Voters? (The New York Times 🔒)
“In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, the polls showed something strange: Joe Biden was faring far better than expected among voters over age 65. Some polls showed him ahead by 10 points or more.
It was a little hard to explain — and believe. Yes, the pandemic hit seniors hardest. Yes, Mr. Biden was old himself. Yes, the baby boomer generation was aging into the 65-and-older group, replacing somewhat more conservative voters. But could Mr. Biden really be winning older voters? When the final overall results came in far better for Donald J. Trump than the polls suggested, it appeared to offer an obvious answer: no.”
Daniel Cox: Why are Young Voters So Down on Joe Biden? (American Storylines)
“Starting in about 2004, young voters emerged as a consistently reliable Democratic voting bloc. Barack Obama enjoyed a massive advantage among young voters in the 2008 election, besting 72-year-old John McCain by a 34-point margin. Even as public support waned for Obama during his first term, young adults remained steadfast in their support. Young voters were critical for Biden’s win in 2020 as well. Six in ten young adults voted for Biden in 2020, while only 36 percent supported Trump.
Despite this substantial margin, there were early signs that young voters were not sold on Biden. A survey we conducted in the summer of 2020 found that nearly one in three young adults said the decision about who to support in the coming presidential election would be difficult. Older voters were far less likely to say deciding who to support in the 2020 election would be a difficult choice.”
Nate Moore, Ruy Teixeira, Karlyn Bowman: The Last Bellwether: Clallam County, Washington (American Enterprise Institute)
“Between 1980 and 2012, several dozen counties voted for the winner of each presidential election. But after the 2020 election, just one of these bellwethers remained. Nestled in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains, Clallam County, Washington, has voted for the winning nominee in eleven straight elections. And if not for blips in ’68 and ’76, the streak would stretch back a century to Warren Harding’s victory in 1920. How has Clallam, a county of 78,000 in the northwest corner of the Evergreen State, retained its political claim to fame? Can the streak continue in 2024?
First, a look at the bellwether-busting elections of 2016 and 2020. When Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016, fourteen previous bellwethers went for Hillary Clinton. Of the remaining nineteen, eighteen went for Trump again four years later as he lost to Biden, leaving Clallam County as the sole survivor. The Clinton bellwethers fell into two main categories. Heavily-Hispanic counties in the South and West—San Antonio, Texas, and Ventura, California, for example – and college-educated cities and suburbs—Asheville, North Carolina, and Naperville, Illinois, for example.”
🗺️ Data Visualization
“In July 2013, activists first used the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag to spark conversation about racism, violence and the criminal justice system following George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
Ten years later, Black Lives Matter stands as a model of a new generation of social movements intrinsically linked to social media. The enduring power of the hashtag itself is clear: More than 44 million #BlackLivesMatter tweets from nearly 10 million distinct users currently exist on Twitter today, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of publicly available tweets from July 2013 through March 2023.1
Use of the hashtag has fluctuated over the years, often in response to instances of police violence against Black Americans. And perhaps no event is more directly tied to the use of the hashtag than the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.”
Madison Dong, Bea Malsky, Lazaro Gamio, Matthew Bloch, Scott Reinhard, Leanne Abraham, Martín González Gómez, Judson Jones, John-Michael Murphy and Marco HernandezMaps: Tracking Air Quality and Smoke From Canada Wildfires (The New York Times)
“In early June, the level of particulate matter in the air from smoke became so unhealthy that many U.S. cities set records. Some Canadian cities experienced far worse conditions. At points, it was hazardous to breathe everywhere from Minnesota and Indiana to sections of the Mid-Atlantic region and the South, according to AirNow, a U.S government data source.
Visibility decreased to startling degrees in many cities, including New York, Toronto, Cincinnati and elsewhere. In some places, smoke from the fires blanketed the sky in an orange haze.
Here’s how the smoke traveled in early June:”
📊 Public Opinion
“When Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, many white evangelical Protestants didn’t just see the Supreme Court’s ruling as a political win — it was a spiritual victory. For decades, religious conservatives have been singularly focused on ending the constitutional right to abortion, a priority that few other demographic groups shared. White evangelical Protestants — a group that has, since the 1980s, voted overwhelmingly for Republicans — were much more likely than other religious groups to say that abortion was a high priority.
The fall of Roe appears to be changing that. In 2021, the share of religiously unaffiliated Americans (a group that includes atheists, agnostics and people who identify with no religion in particular) who said abortion was a critical issue started to rise. And for the first time in 2022, the year the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the share of religiously unaffiliated Americans who said that abortion was a critical issue was higher than the share of white evangelicals who said the same.”
@Emollick: This is actually a real issue! This paper finds car seat laws saved 57 kids in 2017… but also reduced births by 8,000 that year (& 145,000 since 1980!) as families held off having more than two kids as their cars couldn’t hold more seats! (Twitter)
@AnthonyLeeZhang: San Francisco window breakers have apparently learned game theory, and discovered that a strategy more profitable than breaking windows and stealing things is to nicely threaten to break windows and steal things (Twitter)