Now What? (Electoral Afterthoughts)

I can’t say it was my favorite birthday ever, or even a particularly good one, but it was an interesting evening. And long.

If you prefer to skip my due diligence — my recap of the races on my ballot and my predictions for them — and scroll down to the heading “Now What?” below, I won’t be hurt. Actually, I won’t even know.

Presidential Race

As I write this, it’s unclear what the final electoral vote totals will be in the presidential race. They say a few races are still too close to call: New Hampshire (probably Clinton), Michigan (probably Trump), Minnesota (probably Clinton), and Arizona (probably Trump). The present totals without these states are 279 for Mr. Trump and 218 for Mrs. Clinton. A win is 270 or better, a majority. If the four states I named go as I indicated, he’ll finish with 306, and she with 232. It’s a resounding victory for Mr. Trump, even though the popular vote totals at the moment seem to have him up by only one-fifth of a percentage point. (See my notes on the Electoral College.)

Notes on the Vice Presidential Debate

Prior to the vice presidential debate on Tuesday evening, I could not have picked Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) or Governor Mike Pence (R-Indiana) out of a lineup. Nor would I have recognized their voices. I had heard of both, but knew only generally where they land on the political spectrum and how they carry themselves.

2016 VP debate
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), left, and Gov. Mike Pence (R-Indiana).

This is in sharp contrast to the candidates at the top of their tickets. I’ve been watching Hillary Clinton for 26 years or so, and trying not to watch Donald Trump for about that long.

Speaking of the presidential nominees . . .

If Sen. Kaine had not had to defend Mrs. Clinton’s indefensible character and record, and if Gov. Pence had not had to defend Mr. Trump’s countless indefensible words and dubious acts, the debate might have been more substantive, in terms of policy. Even so, it was better than the first presidential debate. And since I’m polishing this post after the second presidential debate (notes on that are next), I’ll say, this vice presidential debate is still the debate I recommend that you watch — if you think you should see a debate but your tolerance for the despicable is nearly spent, and if you want some coherent talk about policy from both sides.

Notes on the First Presidential Debate

I did it. Heaven help me, I did it. I watched the entire first presidential debate, from beginning to end.

I took only a few notes as I watched. But you can watch it yourself here or read a transcript here, and of course there will be multitudes offering to tell you what the candidates said and what it means and what you should think. There are already lots of fact-checkers too, and if I ever see one who appears nonpartisan, I’ll let you know.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t have time for the pregame chatter over the past few days, and I wasn’t interested in all the immediate postmortems, where everyone tries to spin the thing as if it were exactly what they wanted it to be.

Within minutes of the end, people were asking me who won the debate. I’ll answer that in a moment, but it’s not that simple.

Learn Before You Vote: afelection.info

Folks, if you’re in American Fork, you’ll want to check out afelection.info for information about candidates and issues in next week’s municipal election. We keep adding more, so keep going back. You’ll find infographics, audio and notes from meet-the-candidate events, explanations of some of the popular misinformation coming from AFCitizens (again) and their pet candidate (but less, as he learns that their numbers are often bad).

This weekend will also bring the 2015 edition of David’s Handy Little Election Guide. Stay tuned.

Notes on Election Results (and Some Housekeeping)

Let’s review some election results and consider what we’ve learned and what we might foresee.

United States Senate

Republicans seized a majority in the US Senate, picking up at least seven seats. However, they don’t have a veto-proof or even filibuster-proof majority. So expect gridlock to shift around a little, and the President to have to trade his golf clubs for a pen now and then to veto some bills. But at least a lot more bills — substantive ones, I mean — passed by the House might get to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. That will be a nice change.

It appears that Senator Orrin Hatch will become chair of the Senate Finance Committee and President Pro Tem of the Senate. We’ll find out if that’s worth something (as I thought when I campaigned for him) or just a nice-sounding theory (as the opposition thought).

US House of Representatives

As I write this, we’re still waiting for some returns from the Western US, especially California, but it appears that the Republicans will increase their House majority by at least ten seats. They still won’t have a veto-proof majority, but with their different rules they don’t have filibusters, so 60% is not a meaningful threshold.

An Overdue Hat-Tip to the Utah Legislature

As I listened at a school board candidate debate the other day, I remembered a mental note I made months ago. At the time — as at other times, I freely confess — I was feeling a little cranky about what my party’s majority was doing and not doing in the Utah Legislature. (For a single, glaring sample, see “I Am Unfit for the Utah Legislature, from last February.)

The mental note was to blog the legislature an attaboy for HB 250, which both houses passed and Governor Herbert signed. (He gets an attaboy, too.) Having heard multiple Alpine School Board members speak of being trained rigorously to be something other than the people’s representatives, who function as a legislative body to govern the people’s public schools, and after hearing other board members and candidates defend the different, prevailing model, I appreciated this from the legislature:

Notwithstanding a local school board’s status as a body corporate, an elected member of a local school board serves and represents the residents of the local school board member’s district, and that service and representation may not be restricted or impaired by the local school board member’s membership on, or obligations to, the local school board.

What, if any, impact this will have on how school boards operate remains to be seen. At least those of us (if only a few) who care about this matter can now point to the law.

For some discussion of why this matters, see “The Importance of Not Being Unified.”

Tonight’s School Boards Debate at Lone Peak High School

The Setting

About 15 minutes into tonight’s meet-the-candidates event — or was it a debate? — at Lone Peak High School, there were about 70 citizens in attendance. That’s a good turnout. About ten of them were children of various ages, including my very cooperative nine year old; this is also good.

Another dozen or so trickled in later. I didn’t see anyone leave early.

The debate was moderated by State Representative Mike Kennedy, who represents Highland, Alpine, and Cedar Hills, give or take. I wonder if he was nervous, sitting next to State Auditor John Dougall, who is very highly regarded locally as a moderator.

I won’t be attempting a play-by-play report or analysis of the event, but I will share some impressions and document my evolving evaluation of some candidates.