Tuesday, September 22, 2020

US election: Australian Data guru Bela Stantic reveals Donald Trump is on track to win again

But can he allow for the huge voting frauds that seem likely this time?

A data guru who correctly predicted the 2016 US election, Scott Morrison’s win last year and the Brexit vote says history is repeating.

A data scientist who correctly predicted Donald Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 says the US President is currently on track to win again.

Professor Bela Stantic is the founder and director of Griffith University’s Big Data and Smart Analytics Lab, where he analyses social media data and sentiment to predict voters’ behaviour.

In the past, those predictions have been extraordinarily accurate.

Four years ago, Prof Stantic successfully picked the winner in 49 of the 50 American states. His lab also nailed the result of both the 2016 Brexit referendum and our own federal election last year.

In all three cases, public opinion polling pointed to the opposite result.

At the moment, the polls show Mr Trump trailing his opponent, Joe Biden, by an average of 6.2 per cent at the national level. They’re a bit closer in the key battleground states, where Mr Biden leads by 3.9 per cent.

It looks like a comfortable lead for the Democratic Party’s nominee. But, just like Ms Clinton’s lead four years ago, it could be a mirage.

Prof Stantic recently conducted a preliminary, draft analysis of the upcoming US election. His lab’s complete analysis, along with a final prediction of the result, will come closer to polling day on November 3.

“It is obvious again that Trump will lose the popular vote,” he told news.com.au.

“However, he’s tracking really well in the crucial states. Florida is a coin toss, but he’s slightly ahead for me. And Minnesota and Pennsylvania as well. And then Texas, he will win easily.

“So then that gives him an edge to get about 270, 280 electoral votes.

“It is maybe early, but I can tell you that the trend we identified in advance last time is holding.”

In other words, the race is close – pretty much neck-and-neck – but Mr Trump is once again on course to lose the popular vote while winning the decisive electoral vote.

About 2.9 million more Americans cast ballots for Ms Clinton than for Mr Trump in 2016. However, the President’s support was distributed more efficiently.

While the Democrat racked up huge margins in populous but uncompetitive states like California and New York, Mr Trump managed to scrape to relatively narrow victories in the states that actually mattered, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

That gave him a 304-227 edge in the Electoral College, comfortably above the winning threshold of 270.

Prof Stantic said the 2020 election was, broadly speaking, the same sort of race. “It’s really a coin toss. I think Florida, at the moment, is a coin toss, but Trump is just ahead,” he said.

But his draft analysis dug up one particularly important – and perhaps surprising – difference between 2016 and 2020.

“I find that this time it is more polarised than last time,” Prof Stantic said. He reached that conclusion by analysing the comments on Mr Biden’s social media posts.

“People reacted so harshly against Biden. It was 30,000-something comments, and all strongly against him,” he said. “They are saying that he cannot be trusted, that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ‘At least Trump, what he says, he thinks.’ Comments along these lines. “There was not much support for Biden.”

This is an interesting wrinkle, because the conventional wisdom you often hear from political experts – and occasionally, from self-important journalists – is that Ms Clinton was a more polarising figure than Mr Biden is.

Four years ago, Mr Trump and Ms Clinton both had unusually high disapproval ratings in the polls. This time, Mr Biden’s favourability rating is pretty much split down the middle.

Prof Stantic’s method is not infallible. It did, for instance, get the result of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite wrong, for reasons he explained in detail afterwards.

But he says his lab’s analysis is more reliable than opinion polling, because it involves a significantly larger sample size.

“I think the polls are volatile because their sample size is very small. They have a thousand people, and it depends on who you interview,” he said. “I’m talking about millions of posts. Last month, I think I had 800,000 posts in one day. “It’s not just about these 800,000, but it’s also that some posts have 20,000-30,000 likes.”

People also tend to be more honest when expressing their opinions on social media than when a pollster quizzes them.

And the peculiar nature of America’s system, which hinges on the candidates winning states (rather than, say, seats like in Australia), helps make Prof Stantic’s job simpler, because the data allows him to pinpoint exactly which state people will be voting in.

“Australia, it’s a bit hard because of seats and their locations. The US election, it’s easier to predict,” he said.



Support for Black Lives Matter has dropped among Americans since unrest flared after George Floyd’s death, new poll finds

Fewer white and Hispanic Americans are supporting Black Lives Matter while African American backing for the movement remains virtually unchanged, according to a new poll.

A majority of Americans – 55 per cent – express at least some support for the movement, which is down from 67 per cent in June, a new survey by Pew Research Center shows.

The number of American adults who say they strongly support the movement has also dropped from 38 per cent in June to 29 per cent.

The previous survey was taken in the days and weeks following the May 25 police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Pew’s latest findings were taken in the aftermath of the police shooting of 29-year-old black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Among African Americans, support for BLM remains strong. In June, 87 per cent of black people said they backed the movement.

The latest survey puts the figure at 86 per cent.

Notably, the poll found a drop of African American adults who say they strongly support BLM. In June, 71 per cent said they strongly supported it, though now 62 per cent say the same.

Pew found that it is among whites and Hispanics that backing for BLM has wavered.

Among white adults, 60 per cent said they supported BLM back in June. That number has now dropped to less than half – 45 per cent.

In June, 77 per cent of Hispanic adults said they supported BLM. The latest findings show that number has slipped to 66 per cent today.

Among Asian Americans, backing for BLM has dropped slightly from 75 per cent to 69 per cent.

Support for BLM also brings down sharply along partisan lines. Just 19 per cent of Republicans said they somewhat supported the movement.

Meanwhile, 88 per cent of Democrats said the same.

Broken down into race, 88 per cent of white Democrats expressed at least some support for BLM while just 16 per cent of white Republicans say the same.

A little more than half – 51 per cent – of white Democrats said they strongly support BLM, while just 2 per cent of white Republicans said the same.



American Catholics Moving to Support Trump

The Catholic vote in America used to be a monolith, with up to 80 percent of Catholics supporting the Democratic candidate for president. Those days are gone, but the Catholic vote — especially in the northeast and upper midwest — is crucial. Catholics have voted for the presidential winner in 8 of the last 9 elections. They make up about 22 percent of the electorate.

But Catholics are riven by divisions between those who say they mostly follow the Church’s teachings and those who don’t. More conservative Catholics have been trending Republican in recent elections and that trend is expected to accelerate when Catholics go to the polls in November and vote for Trump.

Trump has been called the most pro-life president in history. That, along with his appeals to faith, family, and patriotism are very attractive to more devout Catholics.

Washington Times:

About 18% of Catholics say they accept all the church’s teachings, versus 38% who say they accept most of them, and 29% who say they do not accept some key teachings, according to a February EWTN News/RealClearOpinion poll.

“Among Catholics who do practice the faith in a substantive way, yes, there’s been a dramatic shift over the last several decades away from the Democratic Party and into the Republican Party, and I think it’s been especially pronounced under President Trump,” [Catholic Vote President Brian] Burch said.

Biden is very touchy about his Catholicism, bristling when questioned about his pro-choice stance being directly opposed to church teachings on abortion. He has also opposed the Trump administration to carve out exemptions for people of faith in Obamacare.

For traditional Catholics, however, Mr. Biden remains a hard sell, given his pro-choice stance on abortion and his opposition to conscience exemptions for religious organizations, business owners and medical professionals under Obamacare.

CatholicVote sought to drive home the point by unveiling Tuesday a $9.7 million campaign in six key swing states targeting “Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic record and policy agenda,” including digital ads, canvassing and direct mail.

Catholics are not only worried about Biden, but also his running mate, Kamala Harris, who apparently believes the Knights of Columbus are some kind of super-secret anti-abortion club. In 2018, she grilled a judicial nominee over his membership in the KOC.

“Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men,” said Ms. Harris during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”

The Catholic Association described Ms. Harris, a Baptist, as “the ringleader of the anti-Catholic bullying stance adopted by the Democratic Party.”

There are still enough Catholics in key states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota to make the difference for Trump in November. Whether they come out and vote for him is another question. But with so much at stake — and now, a Supreme Court vacancy that could be filled with a Biden nominee who would make abortion on demand far easier to get — you would think that turnout would give Trump a big boost.




“Go for the much higher numbers”: Trump undercuts GOP by calling for bigger COVID-19 relief package (The Hill)

Department of Health and Human Services unveils plans for vaccine distribution (Washington Examiner)

The Russian-bounties story turns out to be trash journalism (National Review)

White House press secretary excoriates media for failing to cover historic Middle East peace deals (The Post Millennial)

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow uses Obama-era photos to undermine Trump’s border policy and minority outreach (The Washington Free Beacon)

Senate Homeland Security Committee authorizes subpoenas for testimony from Obama officials as part of Russia probe (Fox News)

Robert Mueller declined invitation to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee (Washington Examiner)

Senator David Perdue cleared of wrongdoing on scrutinized stock trades (The Washington Free Beacon)

Pandering Biden criticized for playing sensual hit song “Despacito” at Hispanic Heritage Month event (Disrn)

“This is the most important election since our country was founded”: 235 retired military leaders endorse Trump in joint letter (Disrn)

BLM cofounder Alicia Garza in 2015 said capitalism must be abolished for black lives to matter (The Daily Caller)

Netflix subscription cancellations deservedly soar after “Cuties” controversy (The Daily Wire)

Minneapolis won’t let riot‐battered stores install security shutters (Cato Institute)

“There’s not a comparable year”: Homicides are up 52% in Chicago (USA Today)

Four people apprehended, facing multiple charges for intentionally starting wildfires on West Coast (Disrn)

Former Atlanta CFO — who was employed by an anti-gun administration — indicted for illegal machine gun possession (The Truth About Guns)

New York City Mayor’s Office to take weeklong furlough (WCBS 800)

Fed leaves interest rates near zero; end-of-year unemployment rate forecast is reduced considerably from previous outlook (NPR)

“The WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices”: World Trade Organization rules that some U.S. tariffs on China violate trade rules (National Review)

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. young adults unaware that six million Jews killed in the Holocaust (The Guardian)

Yoshihide Suga — facing daunting challenges — becomes Japan’s prime minister, pledging to follow Abe’s course (NPR)


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