Poll Diving – part 1

The shape and narrative of an election is more interesting than polling percentages. From one election to the next, the shape or narrative changes more than all those hard numbers from polls and vote counts, but they do work in tandem. Therefore, get one correct, the outcome can be correctly projected.

In 2016, the “numbers guys” got it wrong. In part because their interpretation of the numbers was weak in states like Florida and North Carolina. In part because the polling was weak in Michigan and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania was a combination of weak interpretation – the numbers indicated a toss-up – and failure to recognize the shape or narrative. I caught glimpses of that, but never managed to see it fully; so, while surprised, I wasn't dumbfounded by the outcome.

The numbers, president and senate, may present more or better clues this time around than they did in 2016. To that end, my first pass is through a couple of “red states” and a couple of not surprising 2016 “red states.” (Where possible, I've pulled the latest three polls from Ipsos, NYT, and CBS/yougov; otherwise that largest sample size and latest three (including DMR in IA).

1. Rock solid red states (might look boring, but...)

Alabama

2016 election outcomes:
President - Trump 62% and Clinton 34%
Senate – Shelby 64% (inc) and Democrat 36%

This year, Alabama Republicans rejected Sessions in his comeback attempt. Clearly the Trumpsters now own the AL GOP. (Not that Sessions is much different; only that he ended up getting on the wrong side of Trump.)

2020 election polling:

President – Trump 57% and Biden 37%
Senate – Tuberville 54% and Jones 42% (inc) (D)

Jones' 42% for an AL Democrat in a presidential election cycle is actually quite good (not that Jones is much of a Democrat). Nor are the outcomes of either race in doubt. There could be some souring on Trump here but it's slight.

South Carolina

2016 election outcomes:

President - Trump 55% and Clinton 41%
Senate – Scott 61% (inc) and Democrat 37%

2020 election polling:

President – Trump 48 to 52% and Biden 41 to 47%
Senate – Graham – R (inc) 45 to 48% and Harrison 40 to 48%

54% to 58% is where the GOP nominee ends up in SC; so, Trump was in the 'sweet spot' in 2016. Looks as if he'll fall short of that this time, but should still break 50%.

On SARS-CoV2, Cases/M, AL is #6 and SC is #11, and Deaths/M, SC is #14 and AL is #20. (Case fatality rate: SC 2.2% and AL 1.6%.)

2. Sometimes blue but in 2016 early and solid for Trump.

Ohio

2016 election outcomes:

President - Trump 52% and Clinton 44%
Senate – Portman 58% (inc) and Democrat 37%

2020 election polling:

President – Trump 44 to 47% and Biden 45 to 48%
Senate – none

Iowa

2016 election outcomes:

President - Trump 51% and Clinton 42%
Senate – Grassley 60% (inc) and Democrat 36%

2020 election polling:

President – Trump 45 to 49% and Biden 47 to 50%
Senate – Ernst (inc) 43 to 45% and Greenfield 42 to 50%

The polls suggest that Trump is faring worse in OH than IA, but Trump was working IA last week. The IA Senate suddenly became interesting last month. It must be noted that this seat was long held by Tom Harkin, a solid liberal Democrat, until his retirement in 2014. Ernst was the “pig castrator” and her opponent was standard issue dull Democrat. Ernst has been on the Trumptrain since 2016. Well, apparently her 'charisma' was a one trick pig.

A clip from the Ernst-Greenfield debate (because it's amusing) – the simple Ag question:

Flubbing the question was probably not good, but her recovery attempt made it worse as she became arrogant and dismissed her opponent. (Reminiscent of Harris during and after Gabbard's takedown.)\

A better contrasts between these two opponents was seen in their opening statements from their last debate: Iowa senate debate

On SARS-CoV2, Cases/M, IA is #7 and OH is #41, and Deaths/M, IA is #24 and OH is #26. (Case fatality rate: IA 1.4% and OH 2.8%.)

The takeaway from these four states that wrapped up early and strong for Trump and weak to very weak for Clinton is that the Trump base is weaker and the “not Trump” base is stronger. None of them may flip, and keep in mind that Ohio 'bleeds' into PA. However, Harrison shouldn't even be competitive in SC (sweet smell of panic on Sunday)and Greenfield in IA is looking like a winner.

Not to be overlooked, Trump rushed to stump in Iowa last week. (He still believes that his carnival barking routine is the key to success).

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Lookout's picture

one is the the rethugs have registered record numbers. Don't know the truth of that, but could really invalidate the polls.
https://www.foxnews.com/politics/key-battleground-state-gop-see-voter-re...

Another is secret Trumpeteers who won't tell pollsters they support trumpolini.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimrossi/2020/10/07/why-secret-trump-voters...

You've nailed Alabama...all red guaranteed.

No telling what happens 11/3/20.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout by either party of having registered record numbers. Always smells like PR BS to me.

Trumpsters aren't shy; they're too proud of their orange man to deny their support. The 'undecideds' generally split somewhat evenly, but more so in one or the other direction depending upon the state. Thus, in 2016 I estimated a disproportionate split for Trump in FL and NC and that meant that Trump was only one medium sized state short of 270. A simple calculation that the HRC team and Democrats missed then and have continued to miss ever since.

Nailing AL is child's play. It's only slightly interesting that Trump isn't polling 60+%.

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Lookout's picture

@Marie

...is Trump out holding COVID spreading events that will not help with the senior vote....the most reliable votes.

For example...https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/elections/2020/10/12/flor...

But I'll say again there is no telling what will happen on election day. I smell mischief afoot, yet have no idea how it will manifest. I hope I'm wrong.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Pluto's Republic's picture

@Lookout

Another is secret Trumpeteers who won't tell pollsters they support trumpolini.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimrossi/2020/10/07/why-secret-trump-voters...

.

What it tells me is that Trump voters are more fit than we think they are. I suspect they are tapping into swarm consciousness. The Democratic Party prevents that from happening on the Left.

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Lookout's picture

@Pluto's Republic

They fly their flags, have yard signs, and wear their hats. But in PA, MI, WI, MN I figure they aren't so vocal. Would be interested in hearing from folks in those states.

Just saying the polls may not be accurate.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout but the Trumpsterz have been out and been very noisy in MI, MN, and WI. They feel empowered by Trump even as they have nothing in common with him other than being ignorant nincompoops and bullies.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@Lookout

I firmly believe one will find yard signs and bumper stickers only in neighborhoods (or elections) where people are not frightened that displaying such visuals will result in direct harm to themselves or their families.

I believe polling in high-TDS states is probably skewed by Trump voters who lie to the pollsters. over the telephone. It's not a strategy that Trump voters openly discuss. Its a survival instinct that comes via swarm consciousness. These voters are not confident that their responses to polls are really anonymous, and will not be used to destroy their lives.

My criticism lies with polling, itself.

Not to mention an electorate that is profoundly ill-informed and propagandized by the psychopathic industrialists who own the central government.

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Lookout's picture

@Pluto's Republic

... an electorate that is profoundly ill-informed and propagandized by the psychopathic industrialists who own the central government.

How the hell does half the nation think they are better off now than 4 years ago? Makes me disbelieve the polls.
https://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2020/10/09/gallup-substantial-ma...

we are in the midst of an economic collapse worse than the great depression. Reminds me of the dead chicken still running around.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout thus, take with a bucket of salt.

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@Pluto's Republic where halfway decent polling was done, there were no surprises. They didn't bother to do enough polling in MI. PA was a toss-up that the polling stat guys didn't want to admit. Where the polling was completely off was in the WI 2016 Senate race, and don't know that anyone as bothered to figure that one out.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

Polls must be analyzed with great nuance, now more than ever.

Reading medical studies has taught me a great deal about top-level results. There is an immense amount of data buried in the results, and the real-world-future results can be buried in all the noise produced.

These days, rapid-collection political polls are an increasingly blunt instrument that can lose track of context. They're not the predictive technology they once were. Or, to put it another way — they can predict a lot more important information than just the winner to someone who can think with complexity.

Thanks for this intriguing presentation.

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that the Trump's hype is fading in even areas that are rightwing and slow to change. Would that slump be more dramatic if he had a strong opponent? That's a big unknown.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@Marie

... it will not prevent Washington from becoming

Pyongyang-on-the-Potomac.

A nuclear-enabled hermit nation.

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@Pluto's Republic presidential election cycle in a row where "not X" is pathetic but the favored option because X is unacceptable. Democrats are just dumb enough that they won't get that the 2020 "not Trump" becomes the 2024 "not X."

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@Pluto's Republic
The prize is toxic - pandemic, record deficit - $3T, economic depression, endless wars in the ME, a host of self-created "adversaries" that will refuse to do business with the US, escalating climate crisis, and a extremely polarized political environment. As Progressives, what is the best outcome for the long run? Maybe a Trump victory? It will spell the end of the Republicans in Congress and the end of the Democrats ignoring the Progressives, as once again they will have proven that they can't win without promising the people something, anything, and they need the energy of the Left. Bonus - The ancient grandfathers of the Democrat party, who refuse to give up an iota of power, will have both feet in the grave by 2024. Pelosi gets one last face-lift. (OK, that was mean, but funny)

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

@The Wizard
All politicians are powerholics. Like a moth to the flame.

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We are so screwed.

is that some major southern (or typically Republican) states seem to be finally--really--in play. Georgia, Texas, and Arizona in particular.

Sure, it's basically because Trump is such a disaster of a president and candidate, and everyone can see it now. But the decades-long mantra from Democrats that the urban areas of Texas and Georgia would eventually turn those states Blue might actually be coming to pass within the next 12 years or so.

If anything will sink the Republicans entirely, it is that actually coming to pass. If they cannot win those states reliably, they rapidly lose power and effectiveness. They've already lost Virginia entirely (pretty much), and North Carolina teeters back and forth now.

Of course, I suppose you could counter-argue that Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin are now more Republican friendly than they have been in the recent past. But even in those places, it is not *reliably* Republican. Those are more of *hit or miss* states for them.

(Not that I'm at all a Democratic fan, of course. But I do loathe myself some Republicans and their backwards, feudalistic policies!)

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@apenultimate and rely on irrational drama, the system becomes unstable.

GA isn't in play. Have yet to look at TX. Will cover AZ in part 2. AZ is one of the more interesting states this time around but it didn't just happen this year.

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Lily O Lady's picture

@Marie

Georgia will go blue. It seems unlikely.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady blocks out reality.

How much are DC Democrats dumping into the GA Senate race for their DC swamp creature this time?

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Lookout's picture

@Lily O Lady

(Chattooga County/Summerville) will definitely go Trump. They are almost rabid supporters here.

Although one story I got a kick out of was that a friend and sometimes helper here on my place went to the Trump Store in town (yes there is a Trump store), and bought signs and shirts and shit. When asked are you registered to vote? He said "no". My buddy who asked replied, "good".

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout

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We are so screwed.

@Lookout is it a RNC/Trump store, a Trump family store, or a local with a get rich quick store

Someone that can draw should make a cartoon out of your anecdote. (Not that it would be any funnier but would attract a larger audience.)

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Lookout's picture

@Marie

a local with a get rich quick store

It is in a dead "family dollar" location beside the grocery store.

At trade day (2x a week) there are many vendors with everything from flags to hats to masks to tee shirts...it is a cult. Just sayin'.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout

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@Marie

But has the polling in GA *ever* looked like this before? (not to my recollection):

Real Clear Politics Polls

FiveThirtyEight's Polling Averages

We will see . . .

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@apenultimate Georgia was "blue" and began flirting with the GOP to consider if the polling ever looked like what we're seeing now. My take, and granted it's from a distance, is that GA, in the aggregate, remains where it's been for the past few decades. They're just not as wild about Trump as they were in 2016 but still far from going to the other side.

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but I saw the Bradley effect Republicans years ago. Deny the general hatred of quisling Democrats at your peril. Trump might be a Typhoid Mary for buyer's remorse, but that is yet to be proven. As for the registration gap, it has been reported since 2017. Now registration is not a vote - Reagan made that brutally clear - But though it is only isolated data it is data, and especially data about first time registrations. I would also add the "surprising" poll about a majority believing themselves better off under Trump. My immediate thought was 1984, which saw the exact same delusion. Some of us remember how that turned out. Also, it could be an indication of our delusional bias that causes us to under recognize the emotional response to the lockdown. Making this an election about the lockdown might surprise us. What if Democrats see the lockdown as a necessary inconvenience while Republicans see it as an illustration of an existential threat? Then there's voter suppression vs outright fraud. No sane person will call this election until at least December.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

Pluto's Republic's picture

@doh1304

... then chaos will win the day.

This kind of chaos:

Then there's voter suppression vs outright fraud. No sane person will call this election until at least December.

In the end, everything will be blamed on China's interference in the US election.

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@Pluto's Republic

Now it's China? Our democracy is being destroyed
(according to the pundits) by outside influence.
Most of us here know better. American style justice
leans heavily on corporate interests. multinational
Ain't russia or china or whatever demons are drug up
in the medias. Time for a house cleaning here first.

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@QMS If Biden wins, then China/Xi done did it.

Israel isn't as in our faces this time as they were in 2016. Guess Bibi doesn't hate Biden the way he hated Clinton, but the Adelsons are dropping big bucks into the Trump coffers (which of late seems to be emptier than expected).

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@doh1304 in the 1982 CA gubernatorial election, but didn't expect Bradley to win. There's seems to be little agreement as to the discrepancy between the polls and the results.

Democrats really thought Mondale would win in '84? Granted Reagan wasn't all there by then, but the red tide was still rolling in.

How did Republicans fare in the 2018 elections? Shouldn't they have cleaned up if their claims of new GOP registered voters were true?

The lockdowns (or the half-assed lockdowns) are but one component of the pandemic. Democrats and Greens haven't dismissed the lockdowns as an inconvenience. The anti-lockdown folks have been proud Trumpsters since 2016. A lot of people have become very ill from this virus and over 200,000 have died. Others can see that wealthy people get the highest level of care and many wealthy people have financially profited from it. Yes, people are angry but it's not so easy to dismiss Trump's lies, etc. about it.

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@Marie
The Bradley Effect in CA was only about 5%, so it could have been just a larger than expected margin of error. Then in NC (Jesse Helms) it was 15%. But that was 30 years ago. Then again that was before voter suppression. Then again, there was a recent poll where Biden got 28% less than Hillary (black people might be starting to be unwilling to vote for a proven racist just because they have a D after their name)
As for Mondale, in the first place I was referring to the "Reagan Democrats", but also I have a personal story that is more to the point. My first shift as a taxi driver in SF was the last day of the 84 Democratic convention, so I spent all my night ferrying Democrats to Mondale victory parties. The Democrats never mentioned winning the election, but they were ecstatic that they had managed to beat back Jesse Jackson. Sound familiar?
The 18 election is a stronger argument. All I can say is that winning is the worst thing that can happen to the Democrats. Being in office reveals them for the quislings they are. (Nancy Pelosi anyone? 2010 anyone?) Democratic majorities are becoming may flies. They are becoming more and more regional anomalies, and as their minority support declines that will erode.
My ultimate point is that even with the historic loathsomeness of Republican Presidents (Bush and Trump, and I would go back to Reagan, though it is sort of a cultural mandate to claim that you think he was "good") Democrats never seem to last more than one administration.

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

@doh1304 dismantling components and the spirit of the New Deal was bad. Reagan nostalgia is nothing more than not recognizing how much work Republicans and anti-socialist Democrats had yet to do and that even during Reagan's tenure there were still a lot of New Deal Democrats in Congress. Well, Clinton got rid of them for good.

The choices now are between a bigoted, conservative religious, corporate Republican or a lip-service anti-bigot, mainstream religious, corporate Republican. Both are subservient to the MIC and believe Israel is the fifty-first state.

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usefewersyllables's picture

early ballot returns in Colorado, trying to read the tea leaves based on the party registration of the voters.

"Early voting is up 2400%!" Those numbers presumably come from the SoS office, who we know after the primaries is a hyper-partisan dem. She (Jena Griswold) very pointedly delayed the release of the primary results for over a month in order to bury Sanders's 12+ point Super Tuesday win. This minor oversight immensely helped her party fabricate the "Bernie's losing everywhere by a landslide!!!1!!1" narrative. And now she releases breathlessly excited tea-leaf readings practically on a daily basis? Riiiight. Sure. You bet. Guess that means the meat-puppet is polling well here.

My ballot (marked for all the Greens I could find, and no dems) was one of the earliest votes here in CO, as always. Ballots were mailed to 100% of all registered voters in CO on 10/9. I received mine on 10/10, filled it out, and put it in the county lockbox the next day. Nobody I know wants to go stand in line on election day, or trust the USPS to get their VbM ballot back in a timely manner. This is not the year to procrastinate, so people are using the system as designed for once.

And given that I'm registered as "Unaffiliated" since my 2016 #DemExit- who knows who they are reporting my received ballot as "supporting", in their unrelenting efforts to propagandize and manufacture consent. None of the ballots will be opened and counted until after 7 pm on election day, by state law, so all of this business of trying to predict who is voting for what based on registration is utter bunk. I know people in both parties voting for the other party's pres candidate in protest, as well as others who are voting Green, Mickey Mouse, Kanye West (who did make the ballot here), or simply leaving the Presidential line blank.

One good thing out of all this: for the first time, I received 3 separate emails from the county registrar confirming 1. that my ballot had been mailed to me, 2. that my ballot had been picked up at the dropbox, and 3. that my ballot had been accepted for counting (i.e., the signatures matched). This is a new and welcome development, and was a happy thing to see: that agrees with what I can see on the SoS web site. Nice. That will let people (who are too disengaged to bother to check) know that they really are involved in the process.

So much propaganda. I cannot wait for it to be over.

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@usefewersyllables to prefer a national election day. Show up, short wait time, and vote in the company of one's neighbors. Somehow city, county, state election officials were once able to hold such elections when turnout was more than 60% without early voting and mail-in/absentee ballots.

Republicans in CA (and probably some other states) were early in figuring out how to game absentee ballots that were once restricted to those that were legitimately absent on election day. The large increase in absentee ballots then skewed heavily in favor of Republicans.

Why not simplify the process even further. At least half of those that always vote in presidential elections are straight ticket voters. They don't care who the candidates are or what the issues are. Let them register to vote 360 days before the next election. Their ballot card would be limited to certifying that they are still alive and haven't moved. (Yes, as of the official election day, a few dead people will have their votes counted, but the same is true with mail-in/absentee and early voting.) Then election officials would only have to accommodate the other half or less of voters and count half as many ballots.

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usefewersyllables's picture

@Marie

I suspect that CO turnout and participation has been significantly aided by going VbM. I've never put any value in "showing up with my neighbors" to participate: you only have to do a caucus once to get over that whole process on a permanent basis.

One thing that we do very well here (IMNSHO) is that the law is very simply written: all ballots must be in the hands of election officials by 7pm election day or they will not be counted. That is marked clearly on every VbM ballot, and amply publicized by the media. Simple, concise, to the point. The count at the end of election day should be final: if a voter chooses to drop theirs in the mail from Timbuktu or Bora Bora the day before election day, well, it sucks to be them.

As a direct result of that law, Colorado's results should be reportable on election night, and certifiable the next day. This is decidedly unlike places that are trying to contribute to the chaos by saying "postmarked by", so that their counts can go on for weeks afterwards as all the carrier pigeons eventually land and a few more ballots trickle in.

I'm absolutely on the page with you that election day should be election day- but I don't share the concerns that allowing early or mail-in voting provides more opportunities for mischief, given a well designed system. Here, we have hand-marked paper ballots to allow audits and traceability to make sure that they were received for counting, and that's about as good as it gets for the available technology. Until we get to something like cryptographically secure (blockchain, perhaps) online voting, I think I'll continue to advocate for VbM.

Let's face it: any mechanism can be gamed at the County Clerk and Recorder or SoS level, and there's not a damned thing we can do about it. But that being said, having the only way to vote be to miss a day of work, in order to show up in person and stand in line in the snow, isn't exactly the solution for that either...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

@usefewersyllables The expectation was that it would carry Udall's reelection. As it turned out too many voters were either indifferent to Udall or too unfamiliar with the new process to bother voting. CO VbM appears to have increased turnout in off year elections but not so much in presidential election cycles. Turnout was 74.39 in 2016.

A caucus is a totally different animal from in person voting. That's electioneering that shouldn't exist in any form at polling stations. Non-political chit-chatting with neighbors during a ten to fifteen minute wait is healthy.

Agree with your other points. Voters seems to be satisfied with the process in VbM states and so far, candidates and political parties haven't figured out how to game those systems.

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