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Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Hunt for Red November

In the novel/movie The Hunt For Red October, the Soviet submarine Red October was named after the October Revolution in Russia.  Because Russia was still using the Gregorian calendar, the revolution actually took place during what was November in the rest of the world.  I was reminded of this anomaly while reading the latest nonsense from pundit Al Hunt on Bloomberg News.  Hunt's supposed insight is entitled "Be Afraid Mr. President", and it details the shakiness and likely decline in support for President Trump.  It seems that Hunt is looking forward to November 2018 when he expects the socialists on the left to make a big comeback.

There is a problem with Hunt's analysis, however; basically, it is based upon nothing more than his own desires.  Let me illustrate:

Hunt talks about the results in the special election in Georgia's sixth congressional district.  In the first round, the Democrat Jon Ossoff got 48% of the vote and led the field.  For Hunt, this shows that in a Republican district, Trump's voters are abandoning him.  The President should be frightened by this -- or so says Mr. Hunt.  Clearly Hunt doesn't understand what is happening in that district.  First, during the 2016 election, Trump carried the vote by only 1% over Clinton (49 to 48%).  Ossoff got the same 48%.  The Republicans who ran in the first round, however, got 51%; they did better than Trump had done a few months ago.  There are also polls out now on this race.  Karen Handler, the Republican, is leading Ossoff, the Democrat, by 49 to 45% with 6% undecided.  Now that the Republicans are campaigning against Ossoff instead of each other, Ossoff has lost votes since the first round.  There is no indication that the Democrat will win in the special election and there is every indication that the GOP candidate will run stronger than Trump did in winning the district.  That doesn't seem like much proof that Trump's support is eroding.

Hunt also talks about the job approval numbers for Trump and how they are the "lowest in history."  Of course, that is not true.  First, most of the low poll numbers came right after the GOP pulled the healthcare bill from the calendar about a month ago.  That led to a number of Trump voters being unhappy that Obamacare repeal seemed off track.  That has certainly changed, and the job approval figures for Trump have jumped back up since then.  More important, however is that some pollsters have changed their methodology in these polls and have stopped adjusting the results to reflect the proper mix of Republicans and Democrats.  Some polls adjust so that the R's and D's are put in the same proportion as was the case in the 2016 election.  In these polls, Trump is at or just under 50% approval.  In polls that oversample Democrats and then fail to adjust, Trump's numbers are much lower.  These are polls designed to produce a result rather than samples taken scientifically to learn the views of those polled. 

The truth is that it may be that Trump's approval will tank and the GOP will suffer losses in 2018.  There is no way to tell as of today.  On the other hand, it may well be that the GOP makes great gains in 2018.  We could see a Republican pickup of 8 Senate seats to get a filibuster-proof control of that chamber.  There is no way to tell as of today.

One thing is certain though.  Al Hunt has once again put forth his "expert view" which is nothing more than his own partisan wish list.  We can all have different opinions.  Hunt ought to learn how to base his on actual facts, however.  Fake news is so yesterday; someone should tell Al Hunt.

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