Abortion and the election

So, my abortion co-author, Mary-Kate Lizotte was solicited by the Guardian to write an op-ed on abortion and the midterms, so our abortion public opinion team of Mary-Kate, Laurel Elder, and I all got an opinion piece in the Guardian where we get to bring in our latest research.  Cool!  I think we would have been a little more skeptical if we wrote this now rather than the few weeks ago we actually did, but, I think it holds up pretty well:

Political science-based forecasting models offer a clear prediction for the 2022 midterm elections – the results will be very bad for Democrats. Based solely on the fundamentals like the state of the economy, the type of election (ie midterm) and having an unpopular Democrat in the White House, a model by political scientists Charles Tien and Michael Lewis-Beck, generated months before 8 November, predicts a 44-seat loss for Democrats in the House and a five-seat loss for Democrats in the Senate.

The forecasting models produced by FiveThirtyEight are not quite as grim about the prospects for Democrats, predicting that the party will most likely lose majority control of the House of Representatives, but have a small (and shrinking) edge in holding on to their minuscule advantage in the Senate. Unlike the political science models, FiveThirtyEight’s predictions also incorporate polling data and therefore pick up on the ground-level reality that Republicans have put forth weak candidates in key races.

But there is a plausible case to be made that even models incorporating polling data are underestimating Democratic strength in the 2022 midterms. The issue of abortion may help Democrats in two important ways that are not being picked up in either of the models discussed above.

Predicting the outcome of elections is considerably more difficult than other types of polling (eg issue polling), as it requires making assumptions about who is actually going to turn out to vote. Among these well-founded assumptions is that young people have the lowest turnout of all age groups – especially so in midterm elections. Thus current likely voter models assume that young people will once again underperform as voters in 2022…

Additionally in our research we found there are a lot of cross-pressured Republicans on the question of abortion legality. While there are a small number of Democrats who hold positions on abortion in tension with their party – eg less than 10% approve the overturning of Roe v Wade – the percentage of Republicans uncomfortable with their party’s policies on abortion reaches anywhere from 30-50%. When abortion policy was more or less settled law, it was easy for cross-pressured Republicans to ignore the conflict between their party’s position and their own, but now that Republicans are enacting highly restrictive laws and outright abortion bans, such contradictions will be harder to ignore. How will cross-pressured Republicans respond? …

Losing the House and especially the Senate would be a major political blow for the Democrats with important and lasting policy consequences, but should that happen, the impact of the Dobbs decision will likely have staved off much larger losses. And should the Democrats defy historical odds and hold on to the House, or, more likely, the Senate, they will almost surely have the Dobbs decision to thank and its ability to mobilize young voters and to demobilize cross-pressured Republicans.

Also, what’s cool about being in the Guardian is that you get crazy emails from random strangers like this:

The right to abortion is neither stated nor suggested in the Constitution.  However, there are ethical and prudential reasons for some degree of abortion rights in every state, and those rights, I predict, will be gained legislatively over the next ten years.  A complete ban in any state is untenable.
The situation is different with “LGBTQ equality.”  Decriminalizing the acts involved–also not required by the Constitution–is one thing.  Normalizing the thought-feeling patterns involved is another.
The Right, over the last five decades, has made the mistake of fighting false science with claims of religious liberty, parents’ rights, etc., instead of fighting it with true science.  See:
JosephNicolosi.com (good introduction)
In spite of everything, the truth will out.  American law and culture will be adjusted accordingly.  Both parties are to blame for GayScam, but, once the Republicans lead in ending it, Democrats will get most of the political punishment.  The entire legal community will get an upgrade.  (Goodbye, “intersectionality”!)  As for academia, well, we’ll see what educational market forces yield. 

Quick hits (part II)

1) Interesting essay at NBC News, “The Source of the ‘Asian Advantage’ Isn’t Asian Values”

Yet, the idea that Asian-American success is the result of a unique cultural inheritance ignores the role of U.S. immigration policy in creating Asian-American success. In the mid-1800s Asian immigrants were recruited as laborers to work as farm laborers and on the first transcontinental railroad. They were despised laborers who toiled for low wages in the harshest of conditions. Confucian values were not seen as the key to success, but as a marker of racial and religious differences. Eventually, most Asians were excluded from immigration altogether due to fears of racial contamination.

But what a difference a law can make. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act changed the way Asians were seen in this country–from uneducated and unwanted scourge to hardworking students and examples of economic success. How did we go from backwards laborers to a so-called “model minority”? Too many people assume the community’s educational and economic success is due to the cultural traits of Asian Americans. Like Kristof, they believe Asian Americans care more about education than the average American.

There is another explanation. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act ended Asian exclusion and created two immigration priorities: high skills and family reunification.

“We must not let the advantages of immigration policy and positive attitudes from teachers fuel the myth of cultural superiority.”

After 1965, the U.S. started to recruit high-skilled immigrants from Asia. More than half of the Asian-American population immigrated after 1990, when these efforts were ramped up even further. Today, fully 72 percent of all high-skilled visas are allocated to immigrants from Asia. And the majority of international student visas go to Asian immigrants.

This mode of selective recruitment challenges the idea that Asian success in the U.S. is due to Asian values. That is too simple. If Asian cultural values were the explanation, why don’t we see the same kind of educational achievement in Asia as in the U.S.? We don’t.

2) Always like good pantone drama, “Adobe Just Held a Bunch of Colors Hostage: Certain Pantone collections now require users to pay $15 a month to access them—with colors turned black unless you pay up.”

3) I haven’t used predictit much this election, but I had a pretty good ROI on my 2020 bets.  Thorough story in the New Yorker on the history of and current challenges for legal betting markets. 

4) Man, reporters just love talking about “unaffiliated“, voters.  And I just love telling them, no, these are not all swing voters who don’t have partisan attachments!

Over the years, the political landscape in North Carolina has shifted, there are more unaffiliated voters in the state than ever before. As North Carolina becomes more of a purple state, fewer people are publicly designating what party they support.

“People are frustrated with the party system, they don’t really want to feel like they have to publicly choose one or the other,” Steven Greene, a professor of political science at NC State University said…

“I think its nonetheless important to recognize that the vast majority of those unaffiliated voters have pretty strong party inclinations,” Greene said. “And whether someone is registered as unaffiliated probably doesn’t tell you very much about how they’re going to vote.”

That means most unaffiliated voters are not necessarily swing voters or moderates that can be won over by candidates.

5) This is hilarious.  A women in Raleigh literally called 911 because her barbecue was pink (it’s supposed to be after smoking) and somehow still thinks she’s in the right.  Also, this reminded me that I haven’t been to Clyde Cooper’s in too long. 

6) This was really cool. How Peter Jackson used AI to make the Beatles documentary and a remaster of Revolver.  

The problem was in its master tapes. Beginning with Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles recorded most of their instruments and vocals to separate tracks. So for Martin, boosting the volume of a guitar or organ from Abbey Road or “The White Album” was probably as simple as moving a fader. But on earlier albums, the band often combined a few sounds to the same track. The effect was to lock multiple voices or instruments in place together, leaving no easy way for future remixers to tweak just one by itself.

Non-audiophiles may ask: Who cares? The original Revolver sounded good enough to top lists of the greatest albums ever made. Did it really need the overhaul?

Arguably, yes. For all the Beatles’ genius, they never imagined a day when their music would mainly be played through earbuds. The stereo versions of their early albums were mixed for novelty, with extreme separation between sounds in the right and left speakers, sometimes to the point of lopsidedness. (The Beatles themselves preferred the mono mixes, which are harder to find these days.) “Taxman” was a notorious offender, with bass, drums, and rhythm guitar on one side, and for much of the song, just tambourine and cowbell on the other. It’s been reported to cause dizziness in headphone listeners. For 56 years, there was no way to separate those instruments and rearrange them across the stereo field.

But then Peter Jackson took up the case. A few years ago, the Lord of the Rings director was hired to sift through 60 hours of unused footage from the 1970 Beatles documentary Let It Be and cut it into his own movie — 2021’s Get Back. Large sections of that footage had been marked as unusable because the band’s conversations were drowned out on the mono audio tapes by the sound of their instruments: John, Paul, and George had deliberately hidden their sensitive discussions from the original doc crew by noodling on their guitars. Jackson asked the engineers at his production company, WingNut Films, to see what they could salvage, and so they developed their own machine-learning “de-mixing” software capable of splitting up interlocked sounds. It worked so well decoupling music from speech on the Let It Be audio tapes that Get Back, which had been planned as a two-hour film, grew into an eight-hour TV miniseries (a hit for Disney+ last fall and, by some estimations, the best rock documentary ever).

Martin wondered if Jackson’s software could also be used to isolate the sounds on the Beatles’ early studio albums. Could it ever! And so now we have a remixed Revolver, a “Taxman” that won’t make anybody sick, and, presumably, boxed-set remixes of the band’s other six albums on the way for the 2023-2028 holiday seasons. At last, the most valuable music catalogue in history will be AirPod compliant.

“There’s no one who’s getting audio even close as to what Peter Jackson’s guys can do,” Martin recently told Rolling Stone. “It’s like you giving me a cake, and then me going back to you about an hour later with flour, eggs, sugar, and all the ingredients to that cake, that all haven’t got any cake mix left on them.”

7) Why the decline in Monkey pox?

When monkeypox cases in Europe began to decline this summer, researchers’ first question was: Is it real? Some worried that people might not be getting tested because of receding fears of the virus, coupled with strict isolation requirements for patients. “They might be reluctant to be confirmed and be told not to go out at all,” says Catherine Smallwood, monkeypox incident manager at the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Regional Office for Europe.

But the decline is now unmistakable. WHO Europe, which reported more than 2000 cases per week during the peak in July, is now counting about 100 cases weekly. In the Americas, the other major epicenter of the outbreak, numbers have dropped by more than half (see graphic, right). “We’re seeing a true decline,” Smallwood says.

Vaccines, behavior change among the most affected group—men who have sex with men (MSM)—and immunity after natural infection are all playing a role in that decline, says Erik Volz, an infectious disease modeler at Imperial College London, but how much each factor has contributed is unclear. “This is something we’ve debated a lot internally.”

In the United Kingdom, at least, vaccination campaigns have played a minor role, according to a model published as a preprint this month by Samuel Brand, an infectious disease modeler at the University of Warwick. Monkeypox’s reproductive number—the average number of new infections triggered by an infected person—began to drop by mid-June, even though campaigns only started in July, Brand notes. Several other European countries saw the same pattern.

That leaves behavior change and immunity from natural infections. A survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention among MSM in August found about half had reduced their number of sexual contacts. As awareness of the disease increased, people also became more likely to seek diagnosis and treatment early and to avoid sex while they were infectious. The UK Health Security Agency has presented data suggesting syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections declined as well—which would bolster the case for behavior change—although that signal is “suggestive but not conclusive,” Volz says.

Immunity acquired through infections in the most sexually active men may be the biggest factor, however. Monkeypox has been affecting mostly MSM and their sexual networks because parts of those networks are densely connected, with some people having a large number of sexual contacts. Rising immunity in that group could limit the viru’s ability to spread, says Jacco Wallinga, chief epidemic modeler at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. “Because the persons with a very high number of sexual contacts are also those at the highest risk of infection, the depletion of susceptibles due to natural infection is very rapid,” he says. Brand agrees. His model suggests that among the estimated 1000 people in the United Kingdom who have 120 sexual partners per month or more, “maybe half got infected by the time of the peak.” Still, Brand says his model suggests infections among this small part of the MSM population cannot explain the observed decline on their own. “I don’t think it is as plausible” as behavior change playing a role as well, he says.

8) One of my problems with land acknowledgements is that whatever tribes are being acknowledged quite likely took that land by force from earlier tribes.  Really interesting new book reviewed by Thomas Ricks:

In INDIGENOUS CONTINENT: The Epic Contest for North America (Liveright, 592 pp., $40), Pekka Hämäläinen asserts that the war for control of the continent was “one of the longest conflicts in history,” lasting some four centuries. Hämäläinen, a prizewinning historian at Oxford University, recasts the history of North America from a Native American, or Indian, perspective. (He uses those two terms interchangeably.) In the process, he has produced the single best book I have ever read on Native American history, as well as one of the most innovative narratives about the continent.

One of his running themes is how limited the Europeans were in their range of action. Essentially, for most of the time, the English, French and Spanish did nothing without approval from one or another Native American tribe or confederation. The Iroquois, who were the dominant economic, military and diplomatic power in the Northeast in the late 17th century, once had a tribal representative respond to a French official’s threat of war with the dismissive comment, “Let us see whether his arms be long enough to remove the scalps from our heads.”

Westward expansion, the author says, was led not by European colonists but by the Sioux, who perceived the huge advantage in migrating with the horse, an animal new to the Western Hemisphere, into the grasslands of the Great Plains. There, armed with muskets and gunpowder given to them by the French as tribute, they became the second Native American superpower, dominating the Upper Mississippi Valley.

In the Southwest, the Comanches used the same combination of the gun and the horse to rise to a dominant regional position. Soon all of their buffalo hunters were mounted, enabling them to reap a bonanza of protein that fueled the rapid expansion of the tribe. By the 1840s, Hämäläinen notes, Comanches may have grown to become 10 percent of the total Native American population on the continent.They found the Spanish useful and made them their “junior allies,” he writes.

9) Loved reading Bono’s take on various books. 

10) Katrina vanden Heuvel argues, “Democrats have helped working-class Americans. They need to say so loudly.”  I feel like they would do this more if it actually worked.  I think it just doesn’t, even though it really should.

11) German Lopez, “Racial disparities in incarceration have fallen.”

I want to explain one such shift that has gotten little attention: Slowly, the American criminal justice system has become more equitable. The racial gap among inmates in state prisons has fallen 40 percent since 2000, fueled by a large decrease in Black imprisonment rates, according to a new report by the Council on Criminal Justice, a think tank.

Finding the right balance between public safety and human dignity animated many of the criminal justice policies enacted in the U.S. over the past couple of decades. The decline in racial disparities is a remarkable reversal of policies now widely seen as unfairly punishing Black people. “It’s a tremendous drop,” said Thaddeus Johnson, one of the report’s authors…

Why did inequities in prison rates shrink? The decrease was the result of a decades-long effort to reduce what critics call mass incarceration.

That is their term for the harsher sentencing laws passed in response to a crime increase that began in the 1960s, which made the U.S. one of the world’s biggest incarcerators. Black communities were disproportionately affected and in some cases targeted by law enforcement, as the Justice Department has found in Ferguson, Mo., in Baltimore and elsewhere. By 2000, Black adults were locked up in state prisons at 8.2 times the rate of white Americans, after accounting for population.

Eventually, the high costs of incarceration and the racial disparities prompted activists from across the political spectrum to push for a rollback of the toughest punishments. Bit by bit, lawmakers obliged, reducing penalties mainly for nonviolent crimes.

As those changes took effect, incarceration rates dropped. Since Black Americans were more likely to be imprisoned, they benefited the most. Rates of arrest and imprisonment for Black Americans fell sharply, the Council on Criminal Justice analysis found. White arrests also fell, but by less. And the rate of white offenders being sent to prison actually increased.

12) The social science case for the “diversity” value of affirmative action.

The notion that racially diverse student bodies improve campus intellectual life has been roundly attacked by both liberals and conservatives. But the Roberts court should not be quick to dismiss diversity’s value and dismantle affirmative action. Because we have evidence that diversity works…

But we have found a way to quantify the value of diversity in higher education, as these GOP-appointed justices demanded. In a Columbia Law Review article published this year, we marshaled statistically significant evidence that the value of racial diversity is not illusory.

Our paper, “Assessing Affirmative Action’s Diversity Rationale,” examined the effect of increasing diversity in a setting familiar to the justices: student-edited law journals. The student editors of these publications select and edit the articles they will publish, with a goal of choosing those that will be cited most frequently by legal scholars. Citations are not a perfect measure of an article’s quality, but they are a widely used way to gauge the impact of research in many disciplines and to provide a metric for how well a journal is performing.

Over the past six decades, many leading student-run law journals — including the Yale Law Journal and the Harvard Law Review—have taken steps to increase the diversity of their mastheads, believing, like Powell, that a more diverse group of student editors would bring more diverse ideas and experiences to their publications.

More broadly, our article lends credibility to the idea that diverse student bodies, diverse faculties, diverse teams of attorneys and diverse teams of employees generally can perform better than non-diverse teams. These results, in sum, place empirical heft behind Powell’s much-derided diversity rationale.

13) Brownstein on crime:

These attacks assume that the changes in criminal-justice policies that some states and many cities have pursued over the past few years are undermining public safety and fueling higher crime rates.

But an exhaustive new study released today by the Center for American Progress refutes that allegation. Conducted by a team of seven academic researchers, the study compares cities that have elected so-called progressive prosecutors with places whose district attorneys continue to pursue more traditional approaches.

Countering conventional wisdom, the study found that homicides over recent years increased less rapidly in cities with progressive prosecutors than in those with more traditional district attorneys. It also found no meaningful differences between cities with progressive or traditional DAs in the trends for larceny and robbery. “I think it’s really important to emphasize the extent to which we looked for a relationship and found none” between a prosecutors’ commitment to reform and crime rates, Todd Foglesong, a fellow in residence at the University of Toronto and one of the co-authors, told me.

The data, from CAP, a liberal think tank and advocacy organization, reinforces the message from a study released earlier this year by Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. That report found that per capita murder rates in 2020 were 40 percent higher in states that voted for Donald Trump than in those that voted for President Joe Biden. The study found that eight of the 10 states with the highest per capita murder rates in 2020 have voted Republican in every presidential election in this century…

But although competing theories abound (such as more guns or less conscientious policing amid increased scrutiny of their behavior), there’s no real consensus about why crime picked up again starting around 2014. Nor is there any consensus on whether it will now recede from its pandemic heights.

Rick Rosenfeld, a professor emeritus at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and one of the authors of the CAP study, told me some evidence suggests that homicide rates have peaked. But property crime is likely to continue rising, he said, largely because the high price of conventional goods amid soaring inflation has increased the market for lower-cost stolen goods, which creates more incentives to steal. “We live in a multicausal world,” Rosenfeld, a former president of the American Society of Criminology, told me. “Some things may be pushing up crime rates at the same time other things are pushing them down.”

“Multicausal” is far from the world most Democratic candidates are living in these final weeks before Election Day. The CAP study makes a thorough case that the new policies the progressive prosecutors are implementing can’t be blamed for the rising incidence of crime. But the slugfest on the campaign trail underscores an equally important truth: that as long as crime rates are elevated, those criminal-justice reforms will remain politically vulnerable anyway.

14) Really good stuff from NYT on the sociology and demographics of election-denying, “Their America Is Vanishing. Like Trump, They Insist They Were Cheated.” (Gift link)

%d bloggers like this: