Decoding Abortion: How Abortion went from an Unknown Medical Procedure to No. 1 Social Issue in America

Introduction

Abortion is the medical procedure of the termination of pregnancy after the elimination of the fetus. Because of the procedure’s grim nature, it is one of the most heated topics up for debate in the United States. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2016 indicates that 98% of Americans have an opinion in the abortion debate (Mitchell, 2017); a CNN/ORC survey conducted in 2015 also concurs the percentage by indicating only 1% of Americans have no opinion on the abortion debate (Agiesta, 2015). However, since the complexity of the abortion debate is extensive and has multitudes of impacts socially, politically, and religiously, for that abortion has been viewed as one of the pressing issues concerning the “religious freedom” (American center of law and justice, 2016) of some faith-based and/or conservative groups. In left-leaning/liberal groups, the fundamental right of abortion is deeply entrenched in the organizations’ manifestos and platforms (Dorf, 2016). In this paper, the origins of abortion, the history of abortion as a medical procedure, the process of legalizing abortion procedures, and the debate surrounding abortion as a social issue are discussed in an expository manner.

Origins of Abortion

The origin of abortion is not clear, but some have described the process as “as old as pregnancy” (Klabusich, 2016). Most primitive abortion methods are nonsurgical, such as climbing, weightlifting, contacting heated metal rods, stepping onto a viper, and others.  “A range of oils, herbs and liquids such as wine, seawater and vinegar have been described in early writings to […] induce abortion” (Wright, 2010). Fossil records indicate early surgical processes conducting abortions, but such records are not available in a wide-spreading capacity (Department of Classics, 1999). Later, some plants and natural products were found to have the ability to induce abortion, including the infamous pennyroyal teas (Riddle, 1992, p.47).

Legal Restrictions to Abortion

In the 19th century, after tremendous progress in surgical proceedings, abortions were conducted by surgeons on a wide scale, while medical abortions were used concurrently. However, as abortion technology prospers, legal restrictions evolved. In 1803, an English statute abolished the previously-legal first trimester abortions. The act “condemned the willful, malicious, and unlawful use of any medical substance when used with the intent to induce abortion” (Stern, 1968). In 1821, Connecticut enabled the first statute in the United States regulating abortions. Within 10 years, states like Illinois, Ohio, New York, Alabama, and others enabled abortion restriction statutes, and by 1968, 50 of the 51 jurisdictions in the United States have prohibited abortion except if women’s life is endangered (Ibid., at 3). In 1965, Britain, however, legalized abortion for “medical conditions of the mother, for socio-economic reasons, for eugenic considerations, and for pregnancies which resulted from rape or incestuous intercourse”, which is still law today (Ibid, at 4). In Canada, abortion has been legalized since 1969 through Bill C-150 if “a committee of three physicians determined that the pregnancy was a threat to the woman’s life or health” (Norman, 2012). In 1988, Canadian Supreme Court struck down bill C-150’s provision requiring committee approval to receive an abortion in its decision in R v Morgentaler, legalizing abortion across Canada for any reasons (Ibid.). American lawmakers, however, did not consider making abortion legal nationwide. Nevertheless, some state legislatures enabled statutes permitting abortion under different circumstances, sometimes after referendums, as is the case in the state of Washington. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that a Texas law criminalizing abortion would violate the right of privacy, and is therefore unconstitutional (Oyez, n.d.). The decision legalized abortion in the United States nationwide, striking down the 47 remaining laws criminalizing abortion. However, unlike most other countries who concluded the abortion debate after corresponding legislations and/or court cases, Americans still struggle to obtain safe and legal access to abortion. Many states, mostly Republican-leaning states, enabled bills requiring parental/spousal notification (struck down in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1993), hospital admitting privilege and ambulatory surgical center certifications (struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016), as well as safety, location, funding requirements, making abortion difficult to access. In Mississippi, for example, only one location in the state is legally permitted to perform an abortion, down from five available ten years ago. Additionally, many candidates, especially Republican candidates, running for offices would make abortion a central part of their platform, promising to act on the abortion issue. For instance, when Republican pro-life Senator Roy Blunt was unexpectedly campaigning in a tight race in the heavily conservative state of Missouri, various pro-life organizations flocked to Missouri to air advertisements or publish opinion articles to promote Blunt’s views (Musgrave, 2016). Likewise, when Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson was campaigning for his reelection, his pro-life views were challenged by several Democratic and pro-choice organizations (Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 2016).

Argument for Control of Abortion

The abortion debate, although mostly calm and settled in other countries, such as the case of Canada (Ling, 2017), is far from settled in the United States. In Canada, Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer pledged to refuse to reopen the abortion debate despite being an ardent social conservative himself. In the United Kingdom, abortion does not appear anywhere on the two major parties’ manifestos, with the same scenario in France, Germany, Spain, and almost all developed countries except the United States. As stated previously, 98% of the American general populous has an opinion on the abortion issue (Mitchell, 2017). The majority of arguments in the United States, unsurprisingly, come from religious oppositions. 53% of Americans identify religion as a “very important aspect” of their lives, down from 58% in 2007 but still astoundingly high among industrialized countries (Wormald, 2015). The most widely utilized argument against abortion would state that the process of abortion would deprive the fetus of the right to life under the assumption that “a human foetus is a human life” and human fetuses has “intrinsic value” (Pollock, 2007), and destroying valuable subjects require justification. While religion is not directly mentioned in this argument, its essence is conveyed through religious expressions. The assumption that a human fetus is a human object in the Western perspective largely comes from the Bible, which states “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7, The New International Version). This became the foundation of Christian arguments against abortion, and is the most widely used argument in the abortion debates. However, other rationalizations have shed light on the issue as well. In 1989, Don Marquis published his famous essay “Why Abortion is Immoral” on the Journal of Philosophy, arguing that abortion morally deprives the fetus’s potential future, and the value of life the fetus may enjoy were it not be aborted, resulting in significant mental stress for the mother. (Marquis, 1989, 190). Marquis’s argument was said to be the “best secular argument” (Strong, 2008) against abortion, and no other argument was convincing enough to crack it. However, Strong argues in his 2008 paper that the essential argument Marquis puts is unacceptable because emotional analysis shows that receiving an abortion does not result in significant mental distress for the mother, especially if the abortion were to be out of the mother’s health reasons. Therefore, Marquis’s central argument would be invalid. Jack Mulder also rebukes both Marquis’s argument and proposed a pro-choice talking point that women’s health trumps “moral superiority” as proposed by Marquis. Mulder argues that “cortical brain activity”, necessary for consciousness, only develops “around 25–32 weeks after fertilization”, therefore making it ineligible to claim that a fetus could be called a person. From a woman’s perspective, Mulder states “even if a fetus counted as a person, the fetus’s rights would not extend to the right to draw sustenance and protection from the pregnant woman” (Mulder, 2013). As a result of these prior philosophical researches, although we can conclude with reasonable certainty that pro-choice arguments are generally stronger than pro-life arguments, personal bias would be difficult to overcome. A pro-choice person would argue in favor of pro-choice positions and vice versa.

Discussion

Abortion has been a divisive issue since the 1960s. As expositors, our objective is to present the facts in a manner as fact-driven and neutral as possible. It is difficult to not inject personal opinions, but personal opinions should be avoided as much as possible. Hopefully, this paper accomplished these objectives, positioning as close to truth as possible.

Works Cited

Agiesta, J. (2015, September 14). CNN/ORC Poll: Views on guns, immigration, abortion. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/14/politics/cnn-poll-guns-immigration-abortion-2016/

American center for law and justice; ACLJ calls supreme court action on abortion mandate “significant victory for religious freedom”. (2016). Politics & Government Business, , 10. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/1791393315?accountid=14656

Department of Classics. (1999). Abortion. Retrieved June 02, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20070629085332/http://www.unc.edu/courses/rometech/public/content/special/Stephanie_Doerfler/Abortion.html

Dorf, M. C. (2016, May 13). Make no mistake, abortion is a fundamental right. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://www.newsweek.com/abortion-roe-wade-fundamental-right-412908

Ling, J. (2017, May 29). Andrew Scheer will oppose transgender rights, fight gun regulations, fund homeschooling. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from https://news.vice.com/story/andrew-scheer-will-oppose-transgender-rights-fight-gun-regulations-fund-homeschooling

Klabusich, K. (2016, January 22). Abortion Is as Old as Pregnancy: 4,000 Years of Reproductive Rights History. Retrieved June 02, 2017, from http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34529-abortion-is-as-old-as-pregnancy-4-000-years-of-reproductive-rights-history

Norman, W. (2012). Induced abortion in canada 1974-2005: Trends over the first generation with legal access. Contraception, 85(2), 185-191. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2011.06.009

Marquis, D. (1989). Why abortion is immoral. The Journal of Philosophy, 86(4), 183-202. doi:10.2307/2026961

Mitchell, T. (2017, January 11). Public Opinion on Abortion. Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://www.pewforum.org/2017/01/11/public-opinion-on-abortion-2/#

Mulder, J. (2013). a short argument against abortion rights. Think, 12(34), 57-68. doi:10.1017/S1477175613000080

Musgrave, M. (2016, November 04). Missouri: A 2016 Pro-Life Battleground We Must Win. Retrieved June 04, 2017, from http://www.lifenews.com/2016/11/01/missouri-a-2016-pro-life-battleground-we-must-win/

Planned Parenthood Action Fund. (2016). Ron Johnson. Retrieved June 04, 2017, from https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/elections/candidates/senate/ron-johnson

Pollock, W. J. (2007). an argument against abortion on demand. Ratio, 20(1), 71-74. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9329.2007.00347.x

Riddle, J. M., & ACLS Humanities E-Book. (1992). Contraception and abortion from the ancient world to the renaissance. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Roe v. Wade. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved June 2, 2017, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18

Stern, L. G. (1968). Abortion: Reform and the law. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 59(1), 84-95.

Strong, C. (2008). A critique of “the best secular argument against abortion”. Journal of Medical Ethics, 34(10), 727-731. doi:10.1136/jme.2008.024646

Whole Woman’s Health, et al. v. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner, Texas Department of State Health Services, et al., No. 579 slip op. at ___ (June 27, 2016).

Wright, J. (2010). A history of contraception. British Journal of School Nursing, 5(7), 356-357. doi:10.12968/bjsn.2010.5.7.78291

Wormald, B. (2015, November 02). U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious. Retrieved June 08, 2017, from http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/

French Presidential Election: Election-day Modeling and Accountability of Polling Estimates

The French are already in polling places ready to elect their first new president in five years, replacing the scandal-marred Socialist incumbent Francois Hollande. If a candidate wins 50% in this round, he or she becomes the next president without a runoff, of which the top-two candidates not receiving 50% partakes, but sans the largest polling error in the history of the industry, that is a statistical impossibility. The polls now show the far-left, center-left, right-wing, and far-right candidates all having a fair shot of making into the runoff election.

The four frontrunners in this campaign are centrist Emmanuel Macron, nationalist conservative Marine Le Pen, globalist conservative Francois Fillon, and neo-communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Macron, a former Socialist and economy and finance minister in the Hollande-Valls cabinet who quit both the cabinet and party to create his own political movement En Marche and run as the new party’s presidential candidate. Macron has prolonged lead in the polls, a lead that he has maintained since late February, when he received centrist presidential candidate Francois Bayrou’s endorsement and news agencies reported the right-wing candidate Francois Fillon’s scandals. However, Macron’s lead in the polls never put him in a safe position that he would be assured a runoff spot. Polls also reported the low lever of loyalty among Macron supporters, a sign of potential danger of a strong unexpected surge from either Fillon or Melenchon.

The candidate appearing next in the polls is far-right nationalist conservative Marine Le Pen. Daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of far-right, anti-semitic, and formerly neo-Nazi National Front, Marine Le Pen has taken a moderate approach, such as moderation of language, lifting of anti-semitic policies, toward his father’s signature nationalist movement, but the message remains a nationalist conservative one, including elements such as “France for French” and “force of (French) people”. Le Pen promises a referendum for exiting the European Union were she to be elected, with herself seeing EU as hostile to the French people. After having a prolonged lead over other candidates in first-round polls, Le Pen’s poll numbers are in a slight decline, but still remains in a commanding position to make the runoff due to extraordinary loyalty among her supporters, with her left-leaning, welfare-expanding, message appealing to the white working-class voters.

The next candidate is the right (Les Republicains in French)’s nominee Francois Fillon. A former prime minister in president Sarkozy’s administration, Fillon beat his former boss Sarkozy and another former prime minister Alain Juppe in November’s Republican primary. Fillon is the most conservative of the three candidates in the Republican primary, echoing Judeo-Christian values in his campaign messages with a strong social conservative platform, akin to a mainline Southern Republican running for governor in Georgia. Fillon’s poll numbers have declined since Le Canard enchaîné reported Fillon’s wife Penelope Fillon receiving a public salary of EUR 500,000 while doing little work as Francois Fillon’s assistant, but the general public has since forgotten about the incident, allowing Fillon to regain some ground in polls, standing in a weak position for runoff but certainly possible because of a polling error or trend continuation.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the candidate for France Insoumise, or Unsubmissive France, a far-left, neo-communist political movement that also echoes nationalist (economic) values and is mildly opposed to European Union, seeing it as an oppressor of liberty, but unlike Le Pen’s national front, Melenchon emphasizes social deregulation and a left-wing economic message, which is perceived as more genuinely pro-worker and commoners than pro-business than Le Pen’s. Melenchon received an unexpected surge recently, beating Socialist’s Hamon to fifth place while taking a solid 18% in the polls with an upward trend. Melenchon has a fair shot of making runoff as a trend continuation, although his chance of entering runoff is not high.

This model estimates the expected vote share of French presidential candidates, adjusted by other poll/election differences in other European countries, and weighted trend continuation in recent first-round polls. Election data in Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Ireland, Spain, Denmark, and the United Kingdom are used to adjust the ideology score.

Country Party Average poll Election result % Difference
Netherlands Party for Freedom (PVV)

21.167

20

5.8

Austria (1st) Freedom Party (FPO)

25.92

35.05

-26

Austria (2nd, Jun)

51.76

49.65

4.2

Austria (2nd, Dec)

51

46.21

10.4

Ireland Irish Renewal (RI)

2.2

2.2

0

Denmark People’s Party (O)

17.94

21.1

-15

United Kingdom UK Independence Party (UKIP)

11.8

12.9

-8.5

Average

-3.6375

Table 1: Difference in far-right support in poll number and election result in Europe

Country Party Average poll Election result % Difference
Netherlands Party for Freedom and Democracy and Christian Democrats (VVD and CDA)

48.4

52

-6.9

Austria (1st) People’s Party (OVP)

10.04

11.12

-9.7

Ireland Fianna Fail and Fine Gael

(FF and FG)

50.2

49.8

0.8

Spain People’s Party (PP)

29.2

33

-11.5

Denmark Venstre (V)

20.46

19.5

4.9

United Kingdom Conservative Party (Tories)

34.8

37.8

-7.9

Average

-5.05

Table 2: Difference in center-right support in poll number and election result in Europe

Country Party Average poll Election result % Difference
Netherlands Democrats 66 and Labor Party and Socialist Party (D66 and PvdA and SP)

41.6

42

-1

Austria (1st) Social Democratic Party and Green Party (SPO and G)

39.52

32.62

21.2

Ireland Labour Party (Lab)

6.2

6.6

-6.1

Spain Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE)

21.74

22.6

-3.8

Denmark Social Democrats (A)

25.24

26.3

-4

United Kingdom Labour Party and Liberal Democrats (Lab and LD)

41

39.3

4.3

Average

1.76666666666667

Table 3: Difference in center-left support in poll number and election result in Europe

Country Party Average poll Election result % Difference
Netherlands Green Left Party (GL)

17.2

14

22.9

Ireland Sinn Fein (SF)

16

13.8

15.9

Spain Unidos Podemos (UP)

25.2

21.2

18.9

Denmark Socialist People’s Party (F)

17.94

21.1

-15

United Kingdom Green Party (Green)

5.8

3.8

52.6

Average

15.28

Table 4: Difference in far-left support in poll number and election result in Europe

Source: Linked Wikipedia

As evidenced in the previous tables, polls are most likely to underestimate mainstream right support while emphasizing far-left support, a trend consistent with most nations with accurate polling. The same reasoning can be applied to French elections. Fillon would be underestimated while Melenchon would be overestimated, with Macron and Le Pen receiving no significant difference. In table 5, weighted averaged polling numbers are shown.

Candidate Late April Mid April Early April Unadj Estimate
Macron

12.1

7.722

4.199

24.021

Le Pen

11.25

7.359

4.25

22.859

Fillon

9.6

6.237

3.179

19.016

Melenchon

9.6

6.567

2.601

18.768

Table 5: Unadjusted Estimated Vote Share for each candidate in French election

In this table, we can see that French candidates’ positions have not moved significantly since early April, except Melenchon receiving a major surge while Le Pen declined slightly. The final step of this model is to adjust estimated results with ideological scores calculated in tables 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Candidate Unadjusted Estimate Adjustment Factor Adjusted Estimate
E. Macron

24.021

1.76

23.6

M. Le Pen

22.859

-3.63

23.69

F. Fillon

19.016

-5.05

19.98

J. Mélenchon

18.768

15.28

15.9

Table 6: Unadjusted Estimated Vote Share for each candidate in French election

Table 7 would provide the possibility of each candidate in making runoff. The estimated mark for runoff is 20.79%, after taking average of adjusted estimates.

Candidate Adjusted Estimate Standard Derivation Chance of Making Runoff
E. Macron

23.6

2.787

77.9%

M. Le Pen

23.69

4.197

67.9%

F. Fillon

19.98

2.652

34.3%

J. Mélenchon

15.9

6.357

19.9%

Table 7: Chance for runoff

  To conclude, although the two front-runners have a good chance of entering the runoff (in “strongly-lean” and “slightly-lean” positions, respectively), there is a significant chance that either Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen will not enter the runoff (possibility: 27.1%), or both do not enter the runoff (possibility: 7.2%). Watchers worldwide need to pay close attention and have realistic hopes for their preferred candidates entering runoff. With an electorate this fractured, anything could happen.

Georgia’s 6th Congressional District: Pre-election Briefings

With Georgia’s 6th Congressional District special election coming imminently, Democrats and Republicans alike are panicking around the potential results of this crucial special election in this highly educated Republican-leaning, but anti-Trump region located in the deep South. This special election, although would not influence the control of the House in any ways (as the seat would be up for election again in 2018), is seen by many as a bellwether of the state of the race in 2018.

The district is unique in many ways. The district is one of the first in the Deep South to abandon Democratic party loyalty in favor of Republican ideological purity. It was the district that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich held for 22 years; immediately after Gingrich retired, Johnny Isakson held the district for 6 years, and most recently it was the home district of Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. 4 years ago, the idea that district is competitive is incomprehensible. The district voted 59.0-40.1 for Senator John McCain and 60.8-37.5 for Governor Mitt Romney, making the district have a Cook PVI of R+13 ahead of 2016 presidential and general election. Yet, this district with ample of highly educated voters resoundingly rejects Donald Trump as the Republican party’s standard-bearer, with only 48.3% of the voters voting in favor of the New York businessman, while 46.8—a resounding percentage that no Democrat was able to get in this district ever since Jimmy Carter—opted for Hillary Clinton.

This special election carries many weight and hope from the “bold progressives” nationwide. Winning this district is symbolic—a Democrat sitting in the codifier of 1994’s Contract with America would mean the beginning of a Democratic counterrevolution, and more extensively making inroads in traditional Republican territory such as Georgia, which has been trending Democratic for years but true Democratic support never materialized. Winning this district would also open the door for “sun-belt strategy” for the Democrats, finding a pathway to majority after the rise of Trumpism largely consuming rust belt and other midwestern targets (IA-03, MI-01, WI-06, etc).

The leading candidate in this race is former congressional aide and investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old Democrat who has largely carried the entire Democratic base. He is guaranteed to finish first in the Louisiana-styled primary later today, but his support level would be determinative of whether this district could actually flip Democratic. If Ossoff receives 50% outright, he becomes Congressman-elect, and in the more likely circumstance of him not clearing the mark, a runoff would be needed against the second place.

Many predicts that were Ossoff to not clear 50% in the first round, the district’s Republican leaning and consolidation of his Democratic base (facing virtually no credible other Democratic candidates, other than Ron Slotin whose support never materialized more than 2%), but I have no inclination to hold up such prediction as true. To reach my conclusion, we have to introduce the Republican candidates first.

The leading Republican contender for this seat is former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, the first elected Republican Georgia Secretary of State ever. Handel finished first in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial jungle primary, but was narrowly topped out by Rep. Nathan Deal, who later became Governor and as of today still is, by a 0.4 point margin. In 2014 Handel ran for the Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, but finished third after businessman David Perdue, who won the seat after beating Michelle Nunn in the general election.

Handel always had stellar performance in this district. Per DDHQ’s analysis, Handel carried District 6 in both her 2010 run for governor and 2014 run for Senate, so she should be expected to carry the district again today against other Republican candidates, but this two-time loser might have a hard time winning against other three strong Republican candidates—Bob Gray, Judson Hill, and Dan Moody.

The next prominent candidate is businessman who, like Perdue and Ossoff, never held political offices before. He is running on an unapologetic pro-Trump platform and literally tried to drain a swamp in one of his TV ads. Gray has offered Trump his unreserved support, but reciprocal support from anti-Trump groups do not seem decent.

Attachment 1: Video showing Gray draining a swamp

It’s noteworthy that Gray has run attack ads on Karen Handel and Republican groups also have done the same. A Club for Growth ad was targeting Handel as a “big-spending career politician”, and such remarks will not bode well with the runoff, were there to be one.

Judson Hill and Dan Moody, both former state Senators, have consolidated a support around 9%, behind Hill and Gray, but polling in special elections are not extremely reliable, so don’t be surprised to see both State Senators at the runoff. Judson Hill’s former State Senate seat is also up for election. State Senate district 32, a R+20 district that backed Romney 67-31, is expected to be an easy hold for the Republicans but a special election environment plus in an anti-Trump Cobb County area would open the door for surprises. Another Republican candidate David Abroms has the support of Evan McMullin, and that’s likely to get him a few points, but probably not enough to make the runoff.

After an introduction of the Republican candidates, it is apparent that whoever the Republican candidate is, he or she is unlikely to garner the full Republican support. According to runoff polls, Bob Gray, contrary to public opinion among the liberal circles, is expected to be the candidate with most chances to win the runoff (see Emerson poll, Revily Poll, as well as Opinion Savvy poll–more likely voters have an opinion about Gray (in supporting-opposing him, as opposed to with Handel)). Were Handel to be the final Republican nominee, which is likely, the race would be Leans D at worst given the volume of attack ads on her and Ossoff’s seemingly insurmountable financial advantage. Were the Republican nominee to be Gray, the race would be Tossup/Tilts R, given Gray’s clean record as well as his full-fledged support for Trump, whose approval in this district is still 47-48. However, we cannot exclude the possibility of Handel, instead of endorsing Gray like a normal Republican would, endorses Ossoff or makes no endorsement, like Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle in Louisiana’s 2015 gubernatorial race, given Gray’s hostility towards her and her policy positions.

As a closing remark, money works. Ossoff’s 8.3 million is able to deliver him an universal name recognition in the district, like Donald Trump currently enjoys. It is important to know were Ossoff to not win this outright today, whoever may the Republican nominee be, he or she will not consolidate 100% of the Republican support. Given the race’s nationalized status, in my heart I have been considering Ossoff a favorite, but only time will tell if my internal prediction comes out to be true.

Partisan Voting Index for 2016 Elections By Congressional District

I made many posts on Partisan Voting Index so I am going to skip the explanation part–read Wikipedia if you really want to know its definition. I didn’t have time to post this because of the personal issues I have been going through but I think now it’s finally a good time.

 

Some interesting phenomenons:

TX-29 saw the largest PVI swing to the Democrats, from D+13.1 to D+18.7, a 5.5 point swing (due to rounding).

WV-03 saw the largest PVI swing to the Republicans, from R+13.1 to R+22.6, a 9.4 point swing.

The most Republican district remains Thornberry’s TX-13, being R+33.4.

The most Democratic district remains Serrano’s NY-15, an astonishing D+44.5 (with zero change from 2012 PVI).

ueutyi980777_1488710909515_58

This table shows how districts swung. In short, they swung Republican with the country on a new even level.

 

Congressional District election results credit to Daily Kos. 

 

Download spreadsheet here: PVI-by-CD-credit-to-daily-kos

 

 

An Argument for Ranked Choice Voting in a School Election Context

1 Introduction

 

Electoral reform is one of the main goals mentioned by Justin Trudeau (and his Liberal party)’s 2015 federal election platform; the goal has since been abandoned, but the survey (mydemocracy.ca) has communicated a clear message to the Canadian public—Canadians are not satisfied with first-past-the-post voting system. (Canada 2017) On pp. 53 of the report, 62% of the weighted participants were in favor of a ranked-choice system, including 33% strongly in favor, as opposed to only 28% expressing their preference for the current electoral system, with only 17% strongly opposing the ranked choice initiative. There are overwhelming public support for the proposed ranked choice voting initiative in Canada as a whole.  If executed correctly, ranked choice balloting system would substantially improve the power of votes and the voting procedures, as evidenced in allowing voters to have multiple preferences over whom they want to cast their ballots to.

 

2 Methodology

 

The methodology for ranked choice voting is not difficult to understand. In a plurality system, voters only vote for one candidate and the election winner would be the candidate receiving most votes regardless of whether a majority has been reached or not. Under a ranked system, instead of voting for just one candidate, voters can rank the candidates in order of preference. Ballots are counted initially for voters’ first choices. If a candidate wins 50% of the votes, he or she wins the election. If no candidate secures a majority, the candidate placing last in the first-preference ballots would get eliminated, and second preference ballots would be counted and added onto first preference ballots. If still no candidate receives a majority, another round of balloting would continue, and so forth until a majority has been reached.

 

3 Advantages

 

Under this system, voters would be allowed to express multiple preferences, dumping the first-past-the-post (also known as plurality) system of which voters could choose one and only one candidate, voters would be allowed to express a broad amount of preferences, ranking from most preferred to least preferred, effectively eliminating “vote-splitters” to make elections more fair and democratic.

 

4 Disadvantages

 

A ranked choice ballot does not meet satisfy all of unanimity, non-dictatorship, and independence of irrelevant alternatives, which is defined as “if the voters’ rankings of two candidates A and B are the same in two different election scenarios, then the social rankings of A and B must be the same,” (Pacuit 2011) and the addition or removal of candidates between A and B does not affect the ranking of candidates A and B on the social ranking, together An effective solution to this problem is to implement a range voting system, but adopting such system would require an undue amount of burdens and is not optimal for a school election context.

 

5 Implementation

 

A plurality ballot (the balloting system we currently use) would require little alterations in order for it to meet the requirements of a ranked ballot. In fact, on a school ballot, only two simple changes are required to convert it to a ranked ballot. One change is by changing voter ticking box instruction from vote for one to vote for several candidates, another is by changing ballot instruction from vote for one candidate only to rank the candidates according to your preferences.

6 Conclusion

 

Ranked Choice Voting is effective at eliminating vote splitters and would largely put an end to tactical voting. Although it does not prevent vote-splitting from happening (eliminations), on most occasions, votes would count for what they are worth, with ideologically similar camps being represented proportionally in the Student Government, rather than electing candidates representing only one ideological position due to the existence of vote splitters. IRV has obvious weaknesses, as candidates may not necessarily win even if they are indeed preferred by majority of voters, but the benefits IRV brings far outcompetes the potential weaknesses, which is not prevented by retaining first-past-the-post system, it has, and the adoption of IRV is imperative for successfully promoting democracy in a scholastic context.

 

7 References

 

Canada. Privy Council Office. MyDemocracy.ca Online Digital Consultation and Engagement Platform. By Vox Pop Labs Inc. Vox Pop Labs, 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

 

Pacuit, Eric. “Voting Methods.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 03 Aug. 2011. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

 

Poll: Trump unpopular, but still leads Warren by double digits

Eastern Research is my own polling apparatus. It is not a polling firm as it has no employee other than myself. 

Vancouver, B.C. – Eastern Research’s new national poll shows Trump remains the most unpopular president ever inaugurated since the invention of national polls. Three weeks into the administration, only 48% of the eligible voters say they are satisfied with the performance of Donald J. Trump as president, as compared to 52% who disapprove.

Voters, however, do not translate Trump’s unpopularity with votes for the Democratic candidate. However, by a 47 – 25 margin, voters prefer Donald Trump over Democratic frontrunner Elizabeth Warren, with 28% of voters remaining undecided.

Among men, a bare majority (52-48) approves Trump’s performance, while a significant majority (57-43) of women disapprove his performance. Among the youth, overwhelming majorities of the population dislike Trump, but only one age group (18-24 years olds) prefer Warren over Trump for president.

Eastern Research surveyed 394 adults from across the country on February 6th and 7th. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.3%. The sample was randomly selected from a set of population using Google-ads enabled services. The sample was weighted to reflect American demographics, while crosstabs are unweighted.

Q1

Do you approve the performance of President Donald J. Trump?

Approve…………………………….48%

Disapprove…………………………52%

Not sure………………………….…0%

Q2

If the next presidential election were held today, would you vote for Donald Trump (R) or Elizabeth Warren (D)?

Trump……………………………..47%

Warren……………………………25%

Undecided………………………..28%

Q3

If you are a man, choose option 1, if you are a woman, choose option 2.

Man…………………………….…47%

Woman………………..………….53%

Q4

If you are between 18-24 years old, choose option 1, if you are between 25-34 years old, choose option 2, if you are between 34-45 years old, choose option 3, if you are between 46-64 years old, choose option 4, if you are 65 years or older, choose option 5.

18-24 years old……………………8%

25-34 years old…………………..12%

34-45 years old…………………..20%

46-64 years old…………………..40%

65 years or older…………………20%

Download Release Package here

How 2016 became the great prospering of the Republican Party–and how 2014 shaped that.

No state split its presidential and senate ballots in 2016, a phenomenon that has never happened before. [1] Jason Kander came within 2 points with incumbent Republican Roy Blunt, but the turnout generated by Donald Trump is too large for Kander to prevail; were Trump to win a slightly smaller margin, Kander would be the only Democrat to win in a Trump state in 2016. However, the situation is explainable, given what happened in 2014–every single Romney state on ballot replaced Democratic Sens. and put Republican Sens. in place, along with Obama-Trump state Iowa and light blue state Colorado. In a wave [2] election, slightly Democratic states going narrowly to Republican Senate candidates are normal behaviors in a wave election.

 

But indeed, 2014 is a prequel to 2016, not in actually previewing Trump’s victory, but in the incompetence of polls and wake of working class rural whites responding against Democratic policies. In Kansas, for example, Senate polling (latest eight) was o ff by 10.7 points and gubernatorial polling was off by 4.94, 9.2 in Virginia (including Republican pollster Vox Populi showing Warner up by 4 points In Illinois, likewise, gubernatorial polling was off by 5.58. There are, however, examples where polling was not off, such as Massachusetts’ gubernatorial election, Illinois Senate election (interestingly Senate polls in IL were not off, missing only by 1.32 points, but gubernatorial polls greatly exaggerated Quinn’s strength making Quinn seemingly favored but in fact he was not). Colorado elections, on the other hand, have seen the trend reversed–Polls showed, on average, Bob Beauprez leading incumbent governor John Hickenlooper by 0.5, Hickenlooper won by 3.35. Senate side polls were rather accurate–polls showed a 1.9 point lead for Cory Gardner, he won by exactly 1.9. Same trend worked in 2016–Hillary Clinton’s polling average lead was 2.9 points, she won by 4.9. For Senate, Bennet’s average lead was 6.9, he won by 5.7.

 

Regardless, the point is, the polls underestimated Republican strength substantially. In a state that polls missed massively–Wisconsin–polls predicted a narrow Walker victory by 1.7 points, but he won by a larger-than-expected 5.7, a 4 point difference. Likewise, polls predicted a 6.6 point Hillary Clinton victory, but Trump won by 1.1, a 7.7 point difference. In Michigan, the trend isn’t as substantial but still noticeable. Snyder was expected to win with 1.8 points, he won by 4.1, a 2.3 point difference. Hillary Clinton was expected to win the state with 3.6, but she lost it by 0.2, a 3.8 point difference. In the midwest, polls grew to be more inaccurate than they were before. In my massively-failed model to predict the November general election, I added certain provisions to correct the polling average based on historic presidential results, but presidential polling was reasonably accurate during the past two cycles (2008 and 2012) and they lean Republican as a whole. I failed to address midterm polling average errors and shifts in polling average errors. In predicting 2018 elections, such factors must be recognized.

 

2016 was a strike on the head to anyone who believed in accuracy and integrity of polling organizations. Polls failed to accurately represent the results of the elections, more massively than they did in 2014. If this narrative continues, it might be the end of opinion polling industry. Either we have to see major adjustments in the polling industry (such as in developments in RV/LV models), or polling will slowly become an obscured tool to estimate voting strengths.

 

 

  1. Enten, Harry. “There Were No Purple* States On Tuesday.” FiveThirtyEight. FiveThirtyEight, 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 21 Jan. 2017.
  2. Blake, Aaron. “Yes, This Was a GOP Wave Election.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Jan. 2017.

Analysis of Kevin O’Leary, the Canadian populist

Kevin O’Leary is a businessman who has been touted Trump-like on his approach to politics. Disclosure: this is not an endorsement of Kevin O’Leary and is in no way a promotion of his ideology.
 
Kevin O’Leary initially strikes to me as a Trumpesque candidate who could possibly be running on the slogan “make Canada great again”, but after my examination of his political positions, he would hardly resemble Trump outside his talking points, such as “I have great people working for me now. I surround myself with smart people. ” [1]
 
For instance, O’Leary’s political views on social issues, such as abortion, LGBT+ rights, regulation of cannabis, assisted suicide, etc is very liberal leaning, similar to the views of U.S. mainstream-to-progressive liberals. [2] O’Leary’s view on immigration is also very moderate, unlike. [3]
 
On economic policy, this is the area that O’Leary deviates from mainstream liberals. [4] O’Leary wants to eliminate the federal carbon tax and to adopt a free-trade policy (supportive of both NAFTA and TPP), a position that puts him slightly to the right of New Jersey Democratic Senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Cory Booker, (Booker supports Vouchers, O’Leary’s view on the issue is unknown; Booker supports environmental protection apparatus, O’Leary leans oppose). [5] O’Leary believes in a balanced budget (where Trudeau is anti-austerity as is Booker), foreign ownership of Canadian airlines, as well as deregulation of Canadian banking industry (a position Booker supports). [6]
 
Overall, based on his disclosed political views, O’Leary would find himself close to Cory Booker on the ideological spectrum, if not slightly to Booker’s right. O’Leary would be the standard-bearer of a fiscally centrist and socially liberal candidate, a view that most Conservative leadership voters share. On paper, O’Leary would generate less of a bombastic effort than Kellie Leitch, whose xenophobic and unapologetically tea party ideologies would turn off most Canadian voters, as O’Leary takes positions that Canadians actually take. You can read Leitch’s official positions on Leitch’s official website, but for the sake of saneness I decided against linking.
 
O’Leary’s campaign message–fiscal centrist and social liberal–would be an effective slogan to Conservative primary voters; after the primary, O’Leary would be free to move his position along the ideological spectrum, but his primary strategy would be a swing leftwards, as his economic policies are already on the neoliberal side of the Canadian spectrum.
 
O’Leary’s status as Conservative frontrunner guarantees another important view that many Canadians care about–Canada would not have a Trumpesque leader, like Leitch, to threaten the civil and political rights of all Canadians, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation or national origin.
 
1. “Q&A: Kevin O’Leary on why he’s running for the Tory leadership.” Macleans.ca. MacLeans Magazine, 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
 
2. Elliott, Josh. “Kevin O’Leary enters Conservative leadership race: ‘I’m in'” CTVNews. N.p., 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
 
3. “Kevin O’Leary points toward the wrong path: Editorial | Toronto Star.” Thestar.com. The Toronto Star, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
 
4. Julie, Alyssa. “Kevin O’Leary promises to scrap the carbon tax if elected prime minister.” Global News. N.p., 21 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
 
5. OnTheIssues.org. “Cory Booker on the Issues.” Cory Booker on the Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.
 
6. Vandaelle, Ian. “Bank mergers, housing and marijuana: Kevin O’Leary on his leadership bid – Article.” BNN. Bell Media, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Jan. 2017.

An Experiment with Michigan Nonpartisan Redistricting

I’m finally back, after some burdening college applications. My first post of the new year will have to do with redistricting, which is coming up in 4 years. 4 years seems like a long time, but for the Democrats, their No.1 priority should be getting citizen initiatives on nonpartisan redistricting as soon as possible to prevent them being shut from congressional majority forever.

 

In 2010, Michigan rural voters’ angers against an economy not working for them propelled two incumbent Democrats out of office, with the Republican candidates receiving an unprecedented 52.32% of the popular tallys. Two years later, Michigan Democrats lost another seat due to 2010 census eliminating a seat for the state, even though they have won a similar level of popular support as the Republicans did two years ago, solely at the advantage of gerrymandering. The Michigan Republicans decided to never lose it again after winning a previously unheard trifecta in the state government as well as carrying all statewide elective offices under their pockets.

 

In this hypothetical scenario, districts were drawn in the way that they respect the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (to comply to this rule, district boundaries near Detroit city were crazily gerrymandered). I tried to make as many districts competitive as possible, but not in a way that every district is made tossup. Also Dave’s redistricting uses 2008 election data (read: unreliable), and given Michigan’s massive shift in 2016, not every seat on this map is competitive.

 

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District 1:

Obama 49.6 – 48.5

This district remains mostly unchanged from its actual variant. At current day level, it’s about R+5 to R+7, out of reach of any Democrat competing, but this variant’s first district would have definitely flipped in 2012.

2016 likely winner: Jack Bergman (R)

District 2:

Obama 53.3 – 44.9

This district would have voted for a Democratic representative in 2012 (and probably even in 2014), but rough calculation gave it approximately 60% Trump. Main portions of this district belong to Moolenaar’s 4th and Kildee’s 5th, but since Kildee would be redistricted into the 3rd, Moolenaar should easily win here in 2016.

2016 likely winner: John Moolenaar (R)

 

District 3:

Obama 59.2 – McCain 39.0

Kildee’s old 5th’s boundaries would be safe for him for the foreseeable future, but this new district would place him into onto Sabato’s vulnurable incumbent list (although not too much down). A substantial portion of Genesse county is placed into the new 5th, and the more conservative part of St. Clair county is in the new 11th, so while Trump would probably carry this district, it’s not by a substantial amount to propel Kildee out.

2016 likely winner: Dan Kildee (D)

 

District 4:

Obama 50.6 – McCain 47.7

I gave Dem favorable parts of Grand Rapids to this district, but that’s doing little to stop Trump winning 55%+ here. Huizenga would easily win reelection in this district.

2016 likely winner: Bill Huizenga (R)

 

District 5:

Obama 48.7 – McCain 49.6

This is the only district that McCain actually won, although he came close to almost all of them. It includes almost 50% of Amash’s old district, and this seat should be his as long as he wants it.

2016 likely winner: Justin Amash (R)

 

District 6

Obama 52.0 – McCain 46.3

Most of Fred Upton’s district were intact. Upton should be slightly safer given I added heavily Republican Barry County and Ottawa County to the district while simutaneously removing Republican parts of Berrien county.

2016 likely winner: Fred Upton (R)

 

District 7

Obama 50.2 – McCain 47.9

This is another of the state’s 3 strongly R-leaning districts. Geographically and politically this district would be most similar to Walberg’s old 7th, winnable for a D in a wave, but mostly out of Democratic reaches.

2016 likely winner: Tim Walburg (R)

 

District 8

Obama 57.7 – McCain 40.7

This district might have voted for Clinton, but I have to check precinct data to confirm. Rick Snyder only got 53.2% of the votes here in 2010 against Virg Bernero who have long given up campaign, so the district should be completely safe for a Democrat pending a 2010-style wave in an open seat.

2016 likely winner: some generic Democrat (D)

 

 Detroit and surrounding region

Detroit and surrounding region

District 9

Obama 55.9 – McCain 42.6

This district is slightly less Democratic than the 8th, and probably voted for Donald Trump by a slim margin, but a generic D holding the district since 2012 should be able to keep any challenger out. Debbie Dingell’s core constituency would be retained here, and her high profile should be able to keep her a seat in this district although it hardly matches her prior district’s shape.

2016 likely winner: Debbie Dingell (D)

 

District 10

Obama 52.9 – McCain 45.7

This is Michigan’s even district. It’s almost entirely within Oakland county (except not quite). It contains the mostly Republican parts of Wayne county, some swing precincts in Oakland, and two major Democratic vote dumps (Pontiac and Farmington Hills). Obama likely did not carry this district (and certainly not the Dem candidate running for Rep. against incumbent David Trott) as Oakland County as a whole swung Republican for about 3 points and remained there ever since.

2016 likely winner: David Trott (R)

 

District 11

Obama 55.1 – McCain 43.1

This district is the home of many Obama-Obama-Trump voters. While the district voted Obama 55.1-43.1, it almost certainly voted Trump given the huge swing in Macomb county. The race between Paul Mitchell and whoever the Democratic candidate here in 2012 would most certainly be tossup, and that Democrat is likely unseated in 2012.

2016 likely winner: Paul Mitchell (or a generic Democrat) (R)

 

District 12

Obama 61.4 – McCain 37.0

Most of Sander Levin’s old district is intact. He should win here without a problem, even in the reddening Macomb. Levin’s old district suffered a 6-point reddening, but the addition of heavily black parts of Wayne should make him safer.

2016 likely winner: Sander Levin (D)

 

District 13

Obama 78.8 – McCain 20.2

This is the state’s only VRA district, being 41.6% white, 50.0% black, 2.4% Hispanic, 3.2% Asian, 0.3% Native American, and 2.2% others. There isn’t much to explain, as barring a Jefferson 2008-esque scandal facing a moderately liberal Republican, this seat is Democrats for life.

2016 likely winner: Brenda Lawrence (D)

 

District 14

Obama 81.7 – McCain 17.2

This district, at D+29, is not a VRA district, albeit majority-minority. John Conyers should have no problem winner primary and general would be a stretch for any Republican to reach 30%.

2016 likely winner: John Conyers (D)

 

In 2016, this nonpartisan redistricting plan would not change much, as Michigan swung hard to the Republicans. Were Michigan to swing back to the Democrats, this map would keep them competitive at every district. If Michigan swings more to the R side, every district except three would be made very friendly to them.