Tag Archives: politics

Garrison Keillor is not a philosophical genius

Garrison Keillor is some guy who’s mildly famous for an NPR radio show that I think I might have heard half an episode of when I was eight. From what little of it I recall, it was approximately the most Midwestern thing in the world: half of the jokes sounded like Mr. Rogers calmly explaining, to a live audience of kindergarteners, Jonathan Edwards’ theology as developed in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, and the other half had something to do with polka.

Needless to say, Garrison Keillor does not like Donald Trump. The reason, presumably, is that Garrison Keillor—who, incidentally, I never would have pictured as looking like a mad scientist’s first attempt at merging Boris Johnson into Tricky Dick, but here we are—is from the Midwest, and Donald Trump is from Manhattan. These two cultures are as different as the Finns, who I’m reliably informed speak an average of three words, all of which are “perkele”, in their lives, and the culture of the fellow who came up to me while I was buying a donut one morning last week and excitedly explained for half an hour that I ought to grow dreadlocks.

After spending two whole paragraphs casting stones about Donald Trump’s hair from his glass house somewhere on the shore of one of those lakes, Boris Nixon—sorry, Garrison Keillor—cuts straight to the heart of his criticism of the East Coast—sorry, Republican—nominee: he had, apparently, the wrong response to the small incident in Orlando where some loser from Cousinfuckistan pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and went Adam Lanza Jihad on a gay club.

After the worst mass shooting in American history on Sunday, 50 persons dead in Orlando, the bodies still being carted from the building, the faces of horror-stricken cops and EMTs on TV, the gentleman issued a statement on Twitter thanking his followers for their congratulations, that the tragedy showed that he had been “right” in calling for America to get “tough.” …

His response to the Orlando tragedy is one more clue that this election is different from any other. If Mitt Romney or John McCain had been elected president, you might be disappointed but you wouldn’t fear for the fate of the Republic. This time, the Republican Party is nominating a man who resides in the dark depths. He is a thug and he doesn’t bother to hide it.

Maybe this obsession with appearance is attractive to whatever audience out there it is that’s kept a show about polka on NPR for thirty years, but I, born and raised where maintaining a good appearance begins and ends with trying not to sweat one’s clothes into a dripping formless heap immediately upon stepping outside into the malarial atmosphere of a land that God never intended for man to inhabit, can’t see the point. If we must have politicians, isn’t it better to have politicians who can solve problems (on the rare occasion that the problems are real and can be solved) than politicians who can act all sad about them for the cameras before going off and doing nothing? The president is the Big Celebrity of the West, the one person in the world who can get more airtime than Kim Kardashian; but the president is also the man responsible for appointing people to the parts of government that appoint people who actually do things, and therefore the man responsible (albeit at a distance) for determining whether it’s legal to, for example, have borders—and this seems more important (not that I or any of you have any way to possibly influence the outcome of any election ever) than the former role, especially since the government could just crown Kim Kardashian Queen of America, and then, so as not to violate the human rights of the American people, hand out free cyanide pills to anyone who would want one in such a scenario, i.e. 99% of the population.

But—he also says that Trump is unduly obsessed with appearance.

We had a dozen or so ducktails in my high school class and they were all about looks.

What gives? Is Donald Trump, a “ducktail” according to world-renowned hairstylist Brick Jixon—sorry, Garrison Keillor—all about looks, or is he not about looks enough?

One can only conclude that people who became mildly famous for running radio shows about polka are not guaranteed to be philosophical geniuses.

Oh well, at least he offended some Unitarians once.


The American experiment

Noah Smith says: “The Trump thesis is, basically, that the American experiment is over.”

What is this American experiment? Well, there are two. The first is the post-secession experiment in governance. This experiment ended in failure almost immediately, was replaced with a new one, and whatever else you might think about that government, it’s now one of the oldest on Earth.

The second, and the one Noah Smith is talking about, is the bizarre ideological innovation that the United States of America is a “nation of immigrants, where ideals and institutions matter more than race or religion.” Google Ngrams can tell you that this mutation is recent: the phrase “nation of immigrants” is essentially unused until the 20th century and only takes off in the ’60s.

In 1958, John F. Kennedy, then a senator, wrote a booklet called A Nation of Immigrants “for the One Na­tion Library series of the Anti­Defamation League of B’nai B’rith”. He “at­tacked the national origins quota system as discriminatory and called for a generous, fair and flexible policy”. Kennedy lobbied for mass immigration until Lee Harvey Oswald, a Communist active in pro-Castro groups, shot him dead, possibly over the issue of Cuba. Two years later, the 1965 Immigration Act was proposed by Emanuel Celler, a pro-mass immigration ideologue from New York, and Philip Hart, the son of a banker, and helped along by Ted Kennedy.

Before 1965, the American population was 85.4% non-Hispanic white and 10.5% black. Most of America’s white population came from Western and Central Europe, especially the Germanic countries. There were some Irishmen and Italians in addition to the Englishmen, Germans, and Scandinavians, but this was no rainbow nation, nor had it ever been one.

In the early 1960s, the successful efforts of people like Theodore Roosevelt to end hyphenated-Americanism had largely succeeded. (Was Theodore Roosevelt anti-American? Apparently. Who knew.) Hyphenation was especially dead among the Germans, the largest ethnic minority at the time, partially as a result of America’s two wars against Germany; and especially not dead among the Irish, many of whom passed the hat in the pubs for the IRA. Maybe a few wars against Ireland would’ve helped, but if they hadn’t assimilated enough not to fund foreign terrorist groups…

These days, a lot of people—especially the intelligentsia, who are used to thinking of themselves as a separate class, detached from and foreign to the population as a whole, living in bubbles believed to be impregnable to the disgusting outside world—seem to think America has always been a ‘nation of immigrants’, and that the memorial that the friends of a mediocre Zionist poet had erected in her memory somewhere in New York after she died may as well be part of the Constitution. Since these people are a phyle of their own, since they already see themselves as minorities in an essentially foreign country, they have no problem with the prospect of those who are phyletically American having their homeland taken from them and used as grist for the mill of their ideological fantasies, nor with the idea that our homeland was intended as such.

(By the way, Noah, you do know what’s up with the néo-réactionnaires, right? It turns out that multiculturalism isn’t so great for the Jews. At least not the French Jews, many of whom have fled to Israel. Oops.)

The plan

Here’s what might happen if progressives hold the Supreme Court for long enough.

Start with Trop v. Dulles, which illustrates the theory of the ‘living Constitution’:

The exact scope of the constitutional phrase “cruel and unusual” has not been detailed by this Court. But the basic policy reflected in these words is firmly established in the Anglo-American tradition of criminal justice. The phrase in our Constitution was taken directly from the English Declaration of Rights of 1688, and the principle it represents can be traced back to the Magna Carta. The basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment is nothing less than the dignity of man. While the State has the power to punish, the Amendment stands to assure that this power be exercised within the limits of civilized standards. Fines, imprisonment and even execution may be imposed depending upon the enormity of the crime, but any technique outside the bounds of these traditional penalties is constitutionally suspect. This Court has had little occasion to give precise content to the Eighth Amendment, and, in an enlightened democracy such as ours, this is not surprising. But when the Court was confronted with a punishment of 12 years in irons at hard and painful labor imposed for the crime of falsifying public records, it did not hesitate to declare that the penalty was cruel in its excessiveness and unusual in its character. Weems v. United States, 217 U.S. 349. The Court recognized in that case that the words of the Amendment are not precise, and that their scope is not static. The Amendment must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.

Under this theory, certain phrases in the Constitution—”cruel and unusual punishment”, “just compensation”, etc.—are to be interpreted according to the standards of the day, i.e. the standards of whoever or whichever institutions can convince enough people to agree with them that the Court can plausibly claim them to be the standards of the day.

Certain persuasive institutions have decided to start convincing their audiences that ‘hate speech’ is not free speech.

Does formalism matter?

Mencius Moldbug’s concept of formalism runs roughly as follows: since politics is violence at a remove and violence is conflict plus uncertainty, both can be eliminated via the elimination of uncertainty. Since democratic politics necessarily creates uncertainty in government, democratic politics should be replaced by a feedback mechanism that doesn’t, i.e. neocameralism: a patchwork of sovereign corporations.

The obvious problem with this is that Strange Loop is not the government. In fact, very few political controversies today involve the government—GamerGate doesn’t, the censorship issue doesn’t, tech conferences don’t, the endless bickering over which demographic groups are inherently deserving of more status than which other demographic groups doesn’t, and so on. When the government enters into political controversy at all, it’s usually because either it’s an election year (see: Trump) or some political actors have proposed making the government pass a primarily-symbolic resolution bestowing some status upon some group or other, as with gay marriage and the bathroom bill. The government—of USG or of North Carolina; it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a government—has become the chief celebrity of the nation, and not much else.

Given that most politics today is about culture and most political issues today are symbolic (tech conferences, the bathroom bill, arguably GamerGate), argued about for fun by people who only care because they don’t have better hobbies, how much of a difference does it really make what the government does?

(See also: fandom wars. Fandom wars can get big.)

The central conservative insight?

Le Maistre Chat asks, on a SSC open thread:

What do y’all think is the central conservative insight, the idea with the most explanatory power that an autonomous rational person could easily overlook and be left with a bad map of the world?

Is it “a culture is a cult”? Chesteron’s fence? I’m going to say it’s not “heredity matters” as A) neither Burke nor Maistre espoused racism and B) that’s a question for science, which rationalists are predisposed to regardless of politics.

Some answers follow.

Nancy Lebovitz:

O’Rourke, quoting Oakshot:

“To be conservative is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the impossible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, the present laughter to the utopian bliss.”


The central American conservative insight is found in Federalist 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

The government is just as fallible as all other organizations. Most people, when imagining solving some problem through “regulation,” are basically imagining the government as God, an all-knowing, omnibenevolent entity.


The conception of this I like is Mike Munger’s Unicorn:

“Problem: “the State” is a unicorn

When I am discussing the State with my colleagues at Duke, it’s not long before I realize that, for them, almost without exception, the State is a unicorn. I come from the Public Choice tradition, which tends to emphasize consequentialist arguments more than natural rights, and so the distinction is particularly important for me. My friends generally dislike politicians, find democracy messy and distasteful, and object to the brutality and coercive excesses of foreign wars, the war on drugs, and the spying of the NSA.

But their solution is, without exception, to expand the power of “the State.” That seems literally insane to me—a non sequitur of such monstrous proportions that I had trouble taking it seriously.

Then I realized that they want a kind of unicorn, a State that has the properties, motivations, knowledge, and abilities that they can imagine for it. When I finally realized that we were talking past each other, I felt kind of dumb. Because essentially this very realization—that people who favor expansion of government imagine a State different from the one possible in the physical world—has been a core part of the argument made by classical liberals for at least 300 years.”



“Conservative” as opposed to what?

My wife is an intelligent, rational and successful person, but before I met her, she’d never been exposed to a right-wing idea in her life. She simply wasn’t politically engaged, and you have to seek out conservatism to find it, so she just wandered in the normal fog of unconsidered leftism. An autonomous rational person can have a terrible map of the world in political terms, because having undeveloped ideas won’t hurt you, whereas having unpopular ones might. The ideas that have most transformed her politics are the standard ones – that incentives matter, that secure property rights matter, that supply and demand aren’t optional, that decisions involve trade-offs, etc – ideas so obvious that we can’t deny them in our everyday lives. So I encouraged her to apply them to politics, and of course she felt like the scales were falling from her eyes and quickly became a Conservative. Let’s sum up this insight as “free markets.”

But although this is the central insight of the political right as opposed to the political left, would a user named “Le Maistre Chat” call such a politics particularly conservative? Maybe we’re assuming that the “autonomous rational(ist?) person” is already familiar with libertarianism. Well, the central insight of conservatives as opposed to libertarians is that “each new generation is a fresh invasion of savages.”


My own personal view is “Things – like laws – happened for a reason”, though I’m not sure if that comes under the ambit of Chesterton’s Fence.

The simple idea that it’s highly unlikely someone woke up one morning and thought “Yeah, today I think I’ll write a law about [thing] just to piss everyone off!”

There is usually a reason. You may think it a bad reason. It may even be a bad reason. But laws and rules don’t fall out of the sky or leap up full-blown like the Spartoi; somebody, indeed several somebodies, had to make them. And usually they were made in response to what was perceived as a need, a lack, or a danger.

That’s something I’d like to see appreciated: “Aw, why do we have these dumb ol’ rules? The only possible reason is because old people hate fun (or it may be, white people/white men hate love/equality/niceness)!” And everyone applauds and agrees that indeed, the only reason for this is mean-spirited trying to stop people enjoying themselves.

No, it’s because there was deemed a need for such a law for the general good.

Deiseach again:

However, “white men hate fun” would be more accurately rendered as “white men are willing to orchestrate the suffering of others in exchange for some benefit”

And black, brown, yellow and red men never did so themselves in their own native cultures?

Perhaps I should propose as a conservative notion the idea that what is outside your door this o’clock is not the universal experience through all time and the geography of this globe.

“White men the oppressors” is true, of course; but they have also oppressed other white men. And brown men have oppressed brown men, and black men (e.g. Arab slavers selling black Africans to white traders) and so have all humanity in all times and places.

Maybe “it’s not local, it’s human” or “Original Sin – the explanation” would be what I’m trying to get at here 🙂

John Schilling:

Not central, but close to it, is “incentives matter, even when you don’t want them to”. A great deal of conservative thought is based around avoiding moral hazards due to incentivizing undesired behavior, and on not disincentivizing desired behavior. And the reflexive “that’s stupid and won’t work” to just about every new progressive idea is often based on looking at the unintended incentives being offered.

It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.


If we are talking specifically about the Anglo-American brand of “right wing” conservatism I would say that the key insight is Hobbes, Burke, Kipling, et al’s concept of natural law. As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!.

However, in the general case I think Chesteron’s Fence has the stronger claim.


“You are not smarter than the entire past.”

Cowen’s issues with illiberalism

..are outlined in this bizarre post. Apparently, anything outside mainstream economistic liberalism is “neo-reaction”, which he says can be summed up in these six points:

1. “Culturism” is in general correct, namely that some cultures are better than others.  You want to make sure you are ruled by one of the better cultures.  In any case, one is operating with a matrix of rule.

2. The historical ruling cultures for America and Western Europe — two very successful regions — have largely consisted of white men and have reflected the perspectives of white men.  This rule and influence continues to work, however, because it is not based on either whiteness or maleness per se.  There is a nominal openness to the current version of the system, which fosters competitive balance, yet at the end of the day it is still mostly about the perspectives of white men and one hopes this will continue.  By the way, groups which “become white” in their outlooks can be allowed into the ruling circle.

3. Today there is a growing coalition against the power and influence of (some) white men, designed in part to lower their status and also to redistribute their wealth.  This movement may not be directed against whiteness or maleness per se (in fact some of it can be interpreted as an internal coup d’etat within the world of white men), but still it is based on a kind of puking on what made the West successful.  And part and parcel of this process is an ongoing increase in immigration to further build up and cement in the new coalition.  Furthermore a cult of political correctness makes it very difficult to defend the nature of the old coalition without fear of being called racist; in today’s world the actual underlying principles of that coalition cannot be articulated too explicitly.  Most of all, if this war against the previous ruling coalition is not stopped, it will do us in.

4. It is necessary to deconstruct and break down the current dialogue on these issues, and to defeat the cult of political correctness, so that a) traditional rule can be restored, and/or b) a new and more successful form of that rule can be introduced and extended.  Along the way, we must realize that calls for egalitarianism, or for that matter democracy, are typically a power play of one potential ruling coalition against another.

5. Neo-reaction is not in love with Christianity in the abstract, and in fact it fears its radical, redistributive, and egalitarian elements.  Neo-reaction is often Darwinian at heart.  Nonetheless Christianity-as-we-find-it-in-the-world often has been an important part of traditional ruling coalitions, and thus the thinkers of neo-reaction are often suspicious of the move toward a more secular America, which they view as a kind of phony tolerance.

6. If you are analyzing political discourse, ask the simple question: is this person puking on the West, the history of the West, and those groups — productive white males — who did so much to make the West successful?  The answer to that question is very often more important than anything else which might be said about the contributions under consideration.

These six points, apparently, form “a (the?) significant ideology in China, India, Russia, and Japan”, and are represented by Donald Trump. Cowen continues:

Already I can see (at least) four problems with this point of view.  First, white men in percentage terms have become a weaker influence in America over time, yet America still is becoming a better nation overall.

This is clearly and obviously false, at least to anyone who can take the obvious step of distinguishing between the technological and the sociopolitical, and between goodness and adherence to the pseudo-religious dogma of the day. Unfortunately, this claim is often loudly made and quietly retracted (see: Scott Alexander’s anti-neoreaction FAQ and the resulting debate), so the bizarre idea that an atomized, depressed, directionless, and childless America that for the past few decades has been burned over by drug epidemics is “becoming a better nation overall” continues to spread.

Second, some of America’s worst traits, such as the obsession with guns, the excess militarism, or the tendency toward drunkenness, not to mention rape and the history of slavery, seem to come largely from white men.

This is about as reasonable as flat-earthism. Slavery is historically and cross-culturally normal and drew an unusual amount of opposition from European civilization, which eventually abolished slavery (and human sacrifice) worldwide; it’s ridiculous to claim that rape “seems to come largely from white men”; and the “obsession with guns” and “excess militarism” are perfectly ordinary traits of a culture that people like Cowen despise. Maybe Cowen would prefer to live in a country with a strong culture of pacifism, like France right before the Second World War. Oops.

Third, it seems highly unlikely that “white men” is in fact the best way of disambiguating the dominant interest groups that have helped make the West so successful.

This is reasonably accurate, since there are countries with lots of white men that haven’t done as well, and a few non-white countries that have used outside influence to become successful, such as Japan, South Korea, and Singapore. These countries, of course, have nothing in common with each other.

Fourth, America is global policeman and also the center of world innovation, so it cannot afford the luxury of a declining population, and thus we must find a way to make immigration work.

If immigration is so important, Cowen ought to push for a bipartisan solution to it: a plan that, for example, relies mostly on immigration from Eastern European countries (especially our geopolitical enemy, Russia, which we could potentially hurt via brain drain) and refugee status for white South Africans, who tend to be religious and would therefore probably have a higher fertility rate. There’s also the possibility of using the large institutions that can influence our popular culture to push ideas that would raise the American fertility rate, instead of pushing ideas that lower it, as most of them do now. Can you imagine the Ford Foundation agitating for a religious revival?


The emergence of pillarization in the Netherlands

A par­ty defining itself merely as the representative of a certain, clearly distinguishable part of the population, automatically rafrains from addressing itself to potential voters not belonging to this part of the population. It sets drastic limits to its potential voter-reservoir. This self-chosen restraint only seems sensible if there is a likelihood of compensating for this loss of possible voters by an eventually total absorption of the chosen group. To this end the parties not only claimed to be the only representatives of this part of the population. They moreover tried to integrate their followers as totally as possible into their sphere of influence, mainly by creating a system of organizations and associations that corresponded to the various party lines. The result was a fairly complete exclusiveness and absorption of all members of the group in question. The pillars thus created were defined by their belief or ideology and deliberately closed to non-members.

At this stage it becomes clear, that the Socialist pillar is oriented along the same lines as the denominational pillars. The Socialists too had a clearly defined reservoir of followers—the workers. They had a common ideology; they closed their front against dissenting ideologies; they created a broad network of organizations and associations into which they tried to integrate all social activities of their followers. They used the same ideologically based exclusiveness and the same totality of absorbing their followers as the denominational parties did. The only difference was that they could not take over an existing network of church associations—they had to create everything from scratch. So the Dutch parties, deciding to recruit their followers exclusively from an ideologically clearly defined group, had to anticipate two consequences—a desirable and an undesirable one: By pillarization they could ensure a longlasting, nearly blind loyalty but on the other hand they had to accept a strict limitation of their sphere of influence, because all members of different religious or ideological groups were by definitionem beyond reach. …

It appears very much as if the parties decided to choose pillarization after checking the costs and benefits of mobilizing ideologically defined groups. They compared the disadvantages of limiting their sphere of influence with the big advantages: if a realistic chance could be expected to gain a majority, pillarization would be the best strategy possible for gaining both: majority and loyal voters. Indeed, all three parties—the Catholics, orthodox Protestants and Socialists—seem to have reckoned with this possibility. The Catholics expected to gain a majority among the population in a surprisingly short time because of their high fertility rate. They dreamed of the ’Catholic Netherlands’ and of an unchallenged political supe­riority. The orthodox Protestants clearly wanted to gain as many voters as possible from liberal Protestantism. They at least explicitly strived for the Protestant’s dominance and for a structuring of social life according to their religious beliefs. The Socialists assumed that the workers would help them to gain a majority at the polls, as they likewise hoped in other countries too. All three of the parties could reasonably count on winning the majority because of the considerable overlapping of the categorial groups (for example among the Catholic and Protestant workers). The condition was that they succeeded in mobilizing totally their specific reservoirs. The course of events however showed that the parties considerably overestimated their possibilities of such total mobilization. Only the Catholic were able to win over nearly the whole Catholic part of the population. They profited mostly from the support of the organizationally united Catholic church. The Socialists and especially the Protestants were less successful. So it is no surprise that the ’doorbraak’ — a refrainment from pillarization — was explicitly justified by the disappointment of hopes for a majority.

Pillarization in the Netherlands is linked so closely to the origin and the behaviour of the political parties, that each attempt to explain it without reference to these parties must necessarily lead to contradictions. Pillarization is not the consequence of struggles for emancipation or for protecting the identity of the churches only, it is mainly an effect of the mobilization activities of the Dutch political parties, focussing on religious and ideologically defined groups and arguments, during a time of specific conflicts.



Figli di proletari meridionali picchiati da figli di papà in vena di bravate

Alexander van der Bellen, a nominally independent candidate backed by the Green Party, recently defeated Norbert Hofer of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) in the second and final round of the election for the mostly ceremonial office (think ‘elected temporary constitutional monarch’) of the Austrian presidency.

Herr Doktor van der Bellen, a self-described “Flüchtlingskind” (child of refugees), is in fact the son of aristocrats: his grandfather, Alexander von der Bellen, fled Russia for Estonia in 1919 and changed his surname as was required by Estonian law at the time, and his father, Alexander van der Bellen, fled Estonia for Austria in 1941. According to a profile of the politician in Die Zeit, his parents “wollten bei mir alles vermeiden, das darauf hinweist, dass wir Flüchtlinge sind”—wanted him to avoid any sign that the family were refugees; so he assimilated, and now doesn’t speak Russian. The expectation of assimilation was still allowed back then.

Van der Bellen eventually became a professor of economics, joined the Social Democrats, switched to the Green Party in 1994, and left the Greens in 2008, but retained their backing. (In 2007, the Green Party’s youth wing released posters urging Austrians to use the Austrian flag to pick up their dogs’ feces, with the caption, “Anyone who loves Austria must be shit!”) After the other candidates were eliminated in the first round of the election, van der Bellen, a pusher of mass immigration and a “United States of Europe”, ran as the anti-Hofer candidate, campaigning against the “populist” FPÖ.

You can guess what the demographic breakdown of the vote looks like:


Hofer won rural areas; van der Bellen won cities.


University graduates voted 81% for van der Bellen.


Blue-collar workers voted 86% for Hofer.


Hofer won among men; van der Bellen won among women.


The mystery model: 2016 is not 2008

Previously: 1 2 3.

I expected that the mystery model would apply to the 2008 primary, but it doesn’t.

Mississippi 37.3% Obama
Louisiana 32.4% Obama
Georgia 31.4% Obama
Maryland 30.1% Obama
South Carolina 28.5% Obama
Alabama 26.4% Obama
North Carolina 21.6% Obama
Delaware 20.1% Obama
Virginia 19.9% Obama
Tennessee 16.8% Clinton
Florida 15.9% N/A
Arkansas 15.8% Clinton
New York 15.2% Clinton
Illinois 14.9% Obama
New Jersey 14.5% Clinton
Michigan 14.2% N/A
Ohio 12.0% Clinton
Texas 11.9% Clinton
Missouri 11.5% Obama
Pennsylvania 10.8% Clinton
Connecticut 10.3% Obama
Indiana 9.1% Clinton
Nevada 9.0% Clinton
Kentucky 8.2% Clinton
Massachusetts 8.1% Clinton
Oklahoma 8.0% Clinton
Rhode Island 7.5% Clinton
California 6.7% Clinton
Kansas 6.2% Obama
Wisconsin 6.1% Obama
Minnesota 4.6% Obama
Nebraska 4.5% Obama
Colorado 4.3% Obama
Alaska 4.3% Obama
Arizona 4.2% Clinton
Washington 3.7% Obama
West Virginia 3.6% Clinton
Hawaii 3.1% Obama
New Mexico 3.0% Clinton
Iowa 2.7% Obama
Oregon 2.0% Obama
Wyoming 1.3% Obama
Utah 1.3% Obama
New Hampshire 1.2% Clinton
South Dakota 1.1% Clinton
North Dakota 1.1% Obama
Maine 1.0% Obama
Idaho 1.0% Obama
Vermont 0.9% Obama
Montana 0.7% Obama

To recap: there’s one statistic that almost perfectly predicts the results of the 2016 Democratic primary. States that come in at above 8.00% (Oklahoma is rounded up) go to Clinton, with two exceptions, Michigan and Indiana, out of 24; states that come in below 8.00% go to Sanders, with two exceptions, Arizona and Iowa, out of 20. In my original post on this model, I called New Jersey, California, New Mexico, and Kentucky for Clinton, and West Virginia, Oregon, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana for Sanders. The West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oregon primaries have since been held. Clinton won Kentucky and Sanders won West Virginia and Oregon.

In 2008, of the 23 eligible states above the 8.00% cutoff, Clinton won eleven and Obama won twelve; and of the 25 states below the 8.00% cutoff, Clinton won eight and Obama won 17.

Has any election in recent history other than the 2016 Democratic primary been decided by a single statistic like this? Eyeballing the maps of both parties’ primaries back to 1980, it doesn’t look like it.

The closest precedent that I know of is the general election in 1968.

Trump’s Supreme Court picks

…are listed here alongside the state they grew up in, their state of current residence, and the religious institutions from which they obtained their vocational indulgences.

Name State of origin Current state Four-year religious compound Lawyering religious compound
Steven Colloton Iowa Missouri Princeton Yale
Allison Eid Washington Colorado Stanford Chicago
Raymond Gruender Missouri Missouri WUSTL WUSTL
Thomas Hardiman Massachusetts Pennsylvania Notre Dame Georgetown
Raymond Kethledge New Jersey Ohio Michigan Wayne SU → Michigan
Joan Larsen ??? Michigan Northern Iowa Northwestern
T. Rex Thomas Lee Arizona, Utah, Virginia Utah Brigham Young Chicago
William Pryor Alabama Georgia Northeast Louisiana Tulane
David Stras Kansas Minnesota Kansas Kansas
Diane Sykes Wisconsin Illinois Northwestern Marquette
Don Willett Texas Texas Baylor Duke

For comparison, here’s the current Supreme Court, including Scalia:

Name State of origin Four-year religious compound Lawyering religious compound
John Roberts New York Harvard Harvard
Anthony Kennedy California Stanford Harvard
Clarence Thomas Georgia Holy Cross Yale
Ruth Bader Ginsburg New York Cornell Columbia
Stephen Breyer California Stanford Harvard
Samuel Alito New Jersey Princeton Yale
Sonia Sotomayor New York Princeton Yale
Elena Kagan New York Princeton Harvard
Antonin Scalia New Jersey Georgetown Harvard