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June 17, 2024 19 mins
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(00:00):
So hi Bruce, if you cansee me in zoom. So this is
very very exciting. So Bruce Melman, I think is one of the most
interesting and insightful political analysts and punditsand consultants and very data driven, a
very data nerd guy like me.He's the founder of Melman Consulting me e
h l m a n consulting dotcom and I just I absolutely love his

(00:23):
work. Very busy dude, SoI feel privileged that he found some time
to join us here on Kowa.Thanks for being here, Bruce. Really
good to see you. Always greatto see you. Thanks for having me
back. Man. Is that yourdog in the painting behind your right shoulder?
What dog? Who is in thatpainting? That is our former dog

(00:43):
Max, who was more or lesstwenty three and a half hours a day,
my companion through the pandemic. Hedidn't shower with me, but otherwise
we were inseparable. But he passedaway alas after thirteen years of loyal service.
And when my middle son was inhigh school, he had to take
an art class and he painted himand it was I liked it so much.

(01:07):
It was such a good likeness.It's on my wall. Love it
all right, let's jump right in. Now you do six chart Sundays and
focus is all up on my blog. Everything I'm talking about you can easily
find at Rosskominski dot com and youcan link to all of Bruce's stuff and
subscribe. And in the one youput out yesterday you talked about, let's
see, it was The Economist andthen it was five thirty eight with their

(01:30):
own probabilistic take on the twenty twentyfour presidential election. And the Economist has
Trump like two thirds to win andfive thirty eight basically has a toss up.
So my question for you is howcan two both fairly respected models give
such different predictions. And I'm notasking your prediction, this is a data

(01:53):
question. Well, look, thethe easy the TLDR version is nobody knows.
Uh, let's see, what's apolite word for it, But nobody
knows anything more significantly, you knowwho's going to turn out this time.
I've seen good arguments that it's goingto be a high turnout election because it

(02:15):
feels so existential for people. AndI've seen models and rationales and say it's
going to be a low turnout electionbecause nobody likes these old dudes, and
you know, why go vote forthe geezers when you can do something else.
It's the highest Pugist came out withtheir study. It's the highest percentage
of people who dislike both candidates inany modern election that they've measured. So

(02:37):
will it be a high turnout ora low turnout? I guess the economist
in five point thirty eight come toa different conclusion on that. I'm not
sure. I'd say that's a dataquestion, that's a judgment question, and
the data get plugged into stuff.But ultimately, you know, will will
Latinos turn out more than they didin twenty twenty or less than they did
in twenty twenty? There's just awhole you know. And do you want
to wait national averages or do youwant to wait just the sick? You

(02:59):
know? Do you see six swingstates or to see nine swing states.
There's a ton of judgment that goesinto this, and anybody who will tell
you there is a model that's alwaysright or perfect is selling you something.
Yeah, And I just want toelaborate on something Bruce said there, just
to make sure everybody's understanding what we'retalking about. It's possible that just as
a hypothetical that five point thirty eightand economists, the two different things we're

(03:23):
talking about that came up with verydifferent predictions as far as the election.
It's possible that they could have donepolling and each gotten just stick with me
for the hypothetical, the exact sameresults, like the exact same percentage of
twenty three year old white women saidthey're going to vote this way and the
exact same percentage of Asian men saidthey're going to vote this way. And

(03:45):
then each organization needs to decide basedon, as Bruce said, judgment,
well what percentage of twenty three yearold white women are actually gonna bother to
vote? And if they come upwith different judgments on that, then even
if they're underline polling is identical,their guesses will be different. Is that
about right? No, you nailedit. That's exactly right. And you

(04:09):
know, and for many that makesthis whole thing too much art and too
little science. First the challenges.Okay, so you go with your Ouiji
board, and I'm going to gowith political scientists who have studied reams of
data over the last many years.We're going to try to build their own
model. It's a very safe bet. The campaigns have their own models each

(04:29):
and they look at all of thepublic poll they look at the cross tabs,
and they plug the answers that weregiven in to their models. I
mean another question, Ross, wedon't know. We know in twenty sixteen
and in twenty twenty, they wereso called shi Trump voters, people who
were going to vote for Trump butdidn't want to say it because they were
worried that maybe the pollster from amainstream media organization was going to, you

(04:49):
know, give them a hard time. You know, whether it's it's they
you know, they thought there wouldbe political correctness, or it was their
guilty pleasure or whatever. So thenthey give you the answer that's not quite
right. This is an inexact science, but it's better than those science at
all. Yeah, that makes sense. And I do think it's a fascinating
question. The fact that both theseguys are so unpopular. I don't like

(05:12):
either of them, and I'm inmaybe not the majority, but at least
the plurality. And how does thatAnd I know how I'm going to vote,
My listeners know how well. Iactually don't know how I'm going to
vote. I just know who I'mnot going to vote for. I'm not
going to vote for either of them. I don't know who I am going
to vote for. I think youknow, my wife voted for me Ross.
My wife voted for me in twentytwenty. So I'll take a second

(05:33):
vote. Yeah, maybe I'll writeyou in. That sounds just fine to
me. Now let me switch gears. In recent years, ticket splitting seems
to have died. Ticket splitting,folks, basically means voting for one party
for president and another party for Senateor House or or something else. Do
you think ticket splitting will stay deadhere? Or do you think there are

(05:57):
so many people who are so upsetwith the economy and cost of living and
whatever that they might, let's say, vote Trump for the presidency and vote
for a Democratic Senate candidate. Ithink that version of tickets splitting is probably
more likely than someone voting for thanthe other way around. But is tickets
splitting dead or might it show uphere? Yeah? To quote Princess Bride,

(06:17):
it's mostly dead, mostly dead.I think it has been in decline,
as my last quarterly analysis again usedthe data showing it it's been in
a decline for about two decades,increasingly all politics are national, and also
increasingly, both in districts and instates, people live and think like people

(06:41):
near them, and so you know, you have far fewer swing states than
you had twenty years ago and thirtyyears ago, far more landslide counties than
you used to have. And sopart of it is just where people choose
to live. In the case ofthe Senate, in the case of states,
is there are just fewer swing areas. Also, though the nature of

(07:04):
media and social media make everything feelmore national, part of the same trend
is why we've seen the death oflocal news outlets in so many places,
because these big national broad trends seemto take over. But I agree with
your where you asked the question,twenty twenty four will have more tickets splitting
than we saw in the Senate intwenty twenty, where there was one and

(07:25):
in twenty sixteen, where there wasnone, partly because you've got four toss
up seats that are all dem defendedand three more lean seats that are all
defended, and several of these,like Montana and Ohio and West Virginia are
going to go for Trump. Sowe'll see a modest picked back up.

(07:49):
The other thing you may find isyou may find because they're both unpopular,
because this is the I really haveto choose one of these two guys.
Elections, You're probably going to seesome number of vote saying some of our
folks saying, either, well,I'm gonna vote for Biden, but I'm
going to put a Republican in theSenate to contain him, or I'm going
to vote for Trump, but I'msure is Hell going to make sure there's
a Democratic senator if I can helpit, because I'm worried about his authoritarian

(08:13):
tendencies, and I think a democraticSenate we'll check it. So I could
see a lot of that. Yeah, I can too. I think I
think the second version is more likelythan the first. I don't think there'll
be a lot of people voting forBiden and a Republican senator. I can
see more people voting for Trump anda Democratic senator. But I also think,

(08:37):
well, let me ask you aboutthat. Ross. Yeah, I'm
sorry to interrupt, No, goahead. Twenty after Nicki Haley dropped out,
you still had twenty percent ongoing ofRepublican primary voters picking Nicki Haley.
The demographic profile of a Biden RepublicanSenator voter would be a Nicki Haley voter.
Okay, so all right, I'msomewhat tentative in debating you because you

(09:03):
know so much more than I do. But what I would say is that
I don't know anything. I wouldsay that in a lot of those primaries,
the people who showed up to votefor Nicki Haley in the Republican primaries
were unaffiliated voters or Democrats who wereallowed to participate in those primaries. I
think in most or all of thosestates they were open primaries, and that

(09:26):
means that those people, in fact, if NICKI Haley had gotten the Republican
nomination, I bet that half ofthose people at least would have voted for
Joe Biden if Nicki Haley were thenominee. Because they're just Democrats. There's
no point in participating in a Democraticprimary, so they want to express their
hatred to Donald Trump by voting forNicki Haley. What do you think?

(09:48):
Yeah, well, you're right,there's certainly a significant number of voters who
voted in Republican primaries and states thatallow you to pick either primary where there
was no statement to make no oneto vote for in the Democratic primary,
and they you know, they decidedto have a statement. We saw meaningfully
organized efforts to do that back whenHaley was still alive politically in New Hampshire.

(10:13):
You know, maybe that happened,but boy who was spending money to
coordinate that sort of protest effort?Seems to me, since Trump's clearly going
to be the Republican nominee and Biden'sgoing to be clearly the Republican nominee,
I wonder if a Democratic voter wouldgo to the trouble in the tens of
thousands of Well, I'm still goingto show up to vote in the primary,

(10:33):
because that's I want to even thoughit's a FATA complee. I'm going
to vote in the other party,and I'm going to send the message that
nobody's apparently going to listen to.Maybe they did it, but it's you
know, those are those are peoplewho might need another hobby. Folks for
talking with Bruce Melman, who Ithink is one of most interesting and insightful
political analysts out there. If yougo to Bruce Melman and that's M E

(10:56):
H L M A N dot substackdot com and sign up for his quarterly
analyzes and his six Charts Sundays,which are just great brief bits of information
and it's all free. I mean, I'd pay for it if it required
that. It's that good. Letme just go back to this thing then
that you're asking about. So letme go with your premise that many or

(11:22):
most of the people who voted forNicki Haley and Republican primaries are actually Republicans.
So then the question becomes the wholeand we hear this every time.
Are they coming home? Right?So are these people who were Nicki Haley
supporters? By the way, Iwas a Nicky Haley supporter. In fact,
I would have supported almost any republicI usually vote libertarian for president,

(11:46):
but I would have supported Hailey,I would have supported DeSantis, I would
have supported a few of them.I would not have supported Ramaswami or Mike
Pence. And I'm not going tosupport Trump and it pisses off a lot
of my listeners that I'm not goingto support Trump. But anyway, will
they come home? And I thinka lot of these people, and again
this probably comes down to the modelthing we were talking about at the beginning,

(12:07):
Right, will they come home.Will Hailey voters vote for Trump?
Will they be look at Joe Bidenand say, look, I don't like
Trump, but I cannot do fourmore years of this. Will the conviction
on the ridiculous hush money trial pushHailey voters to support I don't know,
what do you think? Yeah,I guess I'd start with I'd say many,

(12:30):
not most. But I think manyof the Hailey voters in the primaries,
both before she got out and aftershe got out, are Republicans.
Well, I don't think all ofthem, And I think you made the
right thinking that whether it's independence oreven some Dems, there are folks who
wanted to, you know, makethe only available statement to be made in
the primaries by voting for Nicky Haley. I think of the Republicans, yeah,

(12:52):
I think a majority end up cominghome in the same way. Right
now, President Biden is struggling inthe polls with younger voters and voters of
color who are working class from especiallymale Latinos and African American young men.
He's struggling really bad. Do Ithink you know Donald Trump's going to crest

(13:13):
over twenty percent of African American voters? No? I think a lot of
what both campaigns are trying and planningto do is how do we bring home
our voters as opposed to having themstay home, which is a huge risk
that both campaigns face. But atthe end of the day, you know,
if, if, and when youcan, if you're talking about issues,

(13:35):
you get the voters more likely tocome home to their respective traditional homes,
at least certainly the Republican voters.If you're talking about you know,
other characteristics, they may stray,they may stray away. And that's why
I think the closing arguments for TeamTrump are going to be that President Biden
is too weak, that he's toowoke, and that he's to Washington right,

(13:58):
and they just have to harp oncost of living over and over and
over again. And you know,I will say that election after election these
days is just so much focus onswing states. But there's pretty significant black
population around Philadelphia. There's obviously alarge black population in Michigan. There's some

(14:20):
black population in Milwaukee as well.I don't know why Trump felt the need
to call Milwaukee a disgusting city,but if Trump is even sniffing twenty percent
in those places and other places inGeorgia, Like this election isn't even going
to be very close in terms ofelectoral vote, you would think, Although

(14:45):
again that then goes back to thequestion, we're just going around the barn
on, you know, is therea meaningful amount of disaffected Republican voters who,
because of January sixth the other reasonssimply aren't going to come home in
the presidential race for the republic Sothere's just there is. If this weren't
reality, this is one of themore fascinating political science experiments we've lived through.

(15:09):
Because I've got I right now havetwo outlines that I'm working at home,
and I feel really confident I canabsolutely explain why Joe Biden lost,
and I can absolutely explain why DonaldTrump lost. I just can't decide who
lost. But once they lose,we'll know exactly why. All of the
reasons are already totally out there.I wish both of them could lose.

(15:31):
But that brings me to my nextquestion. Actually, let's see if we
can squeeze in two more questions.I say, I wish both of them
could lose, but other than maybethe libertarian candidate who's obviously not going to
win, I don't want any ofthe other people to win. This brings
me to RFK. Right, SoRFK is somewhere around eight, ten percent,
twelve percent depending on these polls.Do you think he'll actually end up

(15:54):
somewhere around ten percent? Or doyou think a lot of voters will say,
I'm not going to waste my votelike that. I personally am perfectly
willing to quote unquote waste my vote. I usually vote libertarian, but most
people won't. Do you think he'llreally end up there? And who do
you think he hurts? More greatquestions. So first, we should remember

(16:15):
that Ross Perraut at one point wasleading both President George H. W.
Bush and Bill Clinton. He waspulling thirty nine percent at his highest poll
in nineteen ninety two. He endedup with eighteen point nine percent. John
Anderson, who ran in nineteen eighty, was pulling double digits, and he
ended up in modest single digits.Third parties often look stronger before the closing

(16:38):
arguments of don't waste your vote andor before people get to know him,
and I think they're you know,if sight on sene, if you just
said Robert Kennedy Junior is running RFKJunior pulls a lot more votes from the
Democrats. When you then explain nowhe is more anti vax and more conspiratorial
on those sort of questions than DonaldTrump, you suddenly his support among Democrats

(17:03):
goes way down. When you talkabout you know, he is more isolationist
than either of the main candidates.He loses some potential, you know,
libertarian who still think they're libertarians,who think there's a more muscular role for
the United States and global affairs.You know, when his own comments and
his divorce trial where he said hehad brain worms and he kind of go

(17:25):
through some stuff, and even thoughthe dude looks like he's in pretty good
physical shape, you know, youmay walk away and think, yeah,
you know, I'm not gonna I'mnot picking him because he's the hardy,
inhale, healthy dude, because theyall are kind of a mess. And
so my bet is he ends upin modest single digits. He's also got
to get on the ballot. Thesystem in our country is rigged against third

(17:47):
party candidates, starting with it's hardto get on the ballot, then going
to the fact that it's first pastthe post, and we the way the
system is designed makes it really,really really hard for third parties at any
level to find a path to victory, and especially at a big national level
who he takes votes from. Sothe really smart people who actually do the

(18:07):
data analyzes, I just read people, but it couok Political Report. Their
big macro look at all of thepolls about a month ago concluded that for
every seven points that RFK Junior wasgetting, four of them came from Biden
and three of them came from Trump. And some of that is to the
enthusiasm gap, where fewer than onequarter of people who say they're going to

(18:30):
vote for President Biden say they're psychedabout it. They're usually just really hostile
to president former President Trump. Morethan half of the people who say yeah,
I'm vote for Donald Trump are pumpedto vote for their guy. And
so if you have a low enthusiasmcandidate but they just cannot stum at the
other guy, it's easier to seethem jump into the third party than a
have a you know, than acandidate who has high enthusiasm among the people

(18:52):
looking to vote for him. AllRight, we're going to leave it there,
Bruce. Folks go to Bruce Melman. That's Bruce M. E hl
m A and so substack dot comsign up for his Age of Disruption substack.
It doesn't cost you anything and itis some of the most interesting,
incisive, nonpartisan, data driven analysisyou're gonna find. It's truly, truly

(19:14):
great, Ruth. I'm really gratefulfor your time. I know you're a
busy dude. Thanks for making timefor us. Appreciate it. As always,
Ross, keep up with great work.

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