Turnout update

So, in the end (though there’s still a little counting), turnout did not drop off nearly as much as it first looked.  That said, Democratic votes went down from 2012 and Republican votes went up.  Nice chart from Timothy McBride:

Trump will bring back all the coal-mining jobs!

Also, he would’ve won the popular vote but for those millions of fraudulent votes for Clinton.  Also, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  Alas, in Trump sold many of his supporters a bill of good with this (among many such con jobs).  Brad Plumer with the reality on coal jobs:

All year, Donald Trump has been promising to rescue the US coal industry by repealing various Obama-era pollution rules and ending the “war on coal.” And all year, analysts have pointed out that he probably can’t stop the collapse of the coal industry — since coal’s woes go far beyond the Environmental Protection Agency.

But if you want a perfect example of why Trump will struggle to bring back coal, just look at Michigan.

Last weekend, the CEO of Michigan’s largest electric utility reiterated that his company is still planning to retire eight of its nine remaining coal plants by 2030 — whether or not Trump tries to repeal President Obama’s climate policies. “All of those retirements are going to happen regardless of what Trump may or may not do with the Clean Power Plan,” DTE Energy’s Gerry Anderson told MLive.com’s Emily Lawler.

Coal’s woes go far beyond Obama’s climate policies

Anderson’s reasoning was simple. Coal is no longer the economic choice for generating electricity, due to relentless competition from cheaper (and cleaner) natural gas and wind power. In Michigan, a new coal plant costs $133 per megawatt hour. A natural gas plant costs half that. Even wind contracts now cost about $74.52 per megawatt hour, after federal tax credits. “I don’t know anybody in the country who would build another coal plant,” Anderson said. [emphasis mine]

 What’s more, Anderson added, surveys show that most of Michigan’s consumers want to add more renewables “if it can be done at reasonable cost.”

It’s not just Michigan. This dynamic is playing out all over the country, as coal plant after coal plant succumbs to competition from cheap natural gas and wind. Over at Politico, Michael Grunwald estimates that US power plants are now on track to emit 27 percent less carbon dioxide in 2016 than they did in 2005.

What’s remarkable is that this is all happening before Obama’s Clean Power Plan even takes effect…

True, Trump could still try other moves to help coal. One big reason coal plants have become so expensive is that they have to comply with a slew of EPA air pollution rules on particulates, smog, mercury, and so on (coal is the dirtiest fuel, after all). If a Trump administration were to scale back these rules, the cost of coal power would drop a bit. Likewise, if Congress were to get rid of federal tax credits that subsidize wind and solar, they’d be less competitive against coal.

But none of these strategies are guaranteed to work. A surprising number of Republicans in Congress, including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), are actually in favor of those renewable tax credits. What’s more, rewriting every last Obama-era air pollution rule could be a time-consuming slog — and in any case, utilities have already bought costly scrubbers for their coal plants to comply with things like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). That can’t be undone.

On top of all that, Trump has vowed to ease regulations on fracking, which will just mean more cheap shale gas — which, again, could hurt coal.

Sure, Trump has done a lot of things differently, but he cannot change basic laws of economics.  And if coal power plants are more expensive than alternatives, they just won’t get built.  But, hey, lets just keep on blaming Obama and all those pesky government regulations.

Photo of the day

Just in case you somehow missed this, which is one of my favorite political photos ever:

President-elect Donald Trump and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had dinner together Tuesday night amid reports that Romney was being considered as Trump's secretary of state.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The Republican Gamble

Loved this frame from TNR’s Brian Beutler.  I think it really captures the dynamic within the Republican party:

With almost no exceptions, Republicans on Capitol Hill have ignored all of this [Trump’s conflicts of interest, obvious instability, baldfaced lies, etc.]—not because they aren’t alarmed, but because they’ve decided that acting to constrain Trump now would be inconvenient. Trump is effectively testing, increment by increment, how much damage to democracy Republicans will tolerate in pursuit of right-wing ideological goals. We are watching that test play out in real time, and the only question now is whether the GOP’s gamble will pay off, or fail catastrophically before they have a chance to accomplish anything…

There are multiple incentives inhibiting Republicans from acting to contain Trump right now. Trump is more popular among GOP voters than many elected Republicans are within their own states and districts. Those who might otherwise be inclined to rein Trump in might also be disinclined to sow division within the party before they’ve even claimed their new majority.

But the zen mantra on Capitol Hill isn’t about Trump or party unity per se, but the regressive tax cuts and restored Supreme Court dominance his victory portends. Republicans have led the country into a terrifying funhouse, but are taking solace in the faith that everyone will emerge from it unscathed after they’ve secured their election spoils.

As the cavalcade of disgraces accelerates, this bet looks more and more reckless. Republicans may never find it within themselves to treat Trump’s embarrassments and corruption with the alarm they deserve, but they are almost certainly not going to rein him in before he sends them an acceptably Scalia-like Supreme Court nominee and signs their tax cuts.

These processes could take weeks or months, though. The scope of damage a corrupt, retributive, erratic president could do with weeks or months of unfettered power—unconstrained by any meaningful legislative check—is nausea-inducing. [emphasis mine]

Yep.  Sure, he may be a xenophobic, sexist, racist demagogue who is clearly temperamentally unsuited to the demands of the modern presidency, but come on now, obviously, the future of the country is far more dependent upon lower taxes for rich people and a lasting 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

Did voter suppression decide 2016?

Not likely.  One easy way to gauge the impact would be to look at rates of change in Black turnout in states that passed laws making it harder to vote versus states that did not.  I assume somebody has or will do that.  For now, though, I found this recent tweet from Nate Cohn interesting:

2016 in maps

Nate Cohn with a really cool set of maps via twitter that shows shifts from earlier elections (areas that became more Democratic in blue, of course, and more Republican in red).  This really needs to be all consolidated in the Upshot.  But, here’s a few of them:

As Cohn notes on twitter, 1996-2016 represents a massive urban/rural shift:

Everything mattered

Loved this post in Vox from David Roberts about what mattered in the election.  Of course, in an election this close, most anything you can point to potentially made a difference in the outcome.  Roberts systematically looks at the evidence for all the commonly-offered explanations and gets to this sort-of summary:

The most agonizing implication of the narrow loss is that everything mattered.

Every decision to hype Clinton’s emails. Comey’s extraordinary violation of precedent. WikiLeaks. Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches. Her refusal to dissociate from the Clinton Foundation. Her poor retail politics. Trump not releasing his tax returns. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan hiding out. Sanders tarnishing Clinton’s image among young people. Institutions standing by and doing nothing as Trump shredded democratic norms. The gamble that Trump’s misogyny and racism would render him unacceptable.

Fake news on Facebook. Epistemological bubbles. Elite self-absorption. Hot take after hot take delivered to the choir. Americans making the contest into a crass reality TV show fueled by Facebook memes. The press refusing to cover policy.

And whatever else you can name. The Electoral College turned on a 107,000-vote margin. All of it mattered. If you’re prone to haunting, crippling regret (luckily I don’t know anyone like that), that’s where you should focus your energy.

And I really like this part, because it certainly applies to what I got wrong:

Many people assumed that certain norms and standards still transcend the partisan divide. Surely being accused of, and admitting on tape to, serial sexual assault. Surely swindling poor people with a fake university. Surely crude racial stereotypes. Surely running a charitable foundation as a slush fund. Surely encouraging violence at rallies or threatening to reject unwelcome election results. Surely celebrating torture or vowing war crimes.

Clinton bet most of her chips on there being some floor, some violation of norms too low even for today’s radicalized Republican Party. She thought responsible Republican officeholders would rally. She thought at least well-off, well-educated Republican women would recoil in horror.

She was wrong. There is no floor. Partisanship has been revealed as the strongest force in US public life — stronger than any norms, independent of any facts. [emphasis mine]

Ezra Klein sums it up:

Political scientist Julia Azari has written the single most important sentence for understanding both Trump’s rise and this dangerous era in American politics: “The defining characteristic of our moment is that parties are weak while partisanship is strong.”

Here is the problem, in short: Parties, and particularly the Republican Party, can no longer control whom they nominate. But once they nominate someone — once they nominate anyone — that person is guaranteed the support of both the party’s elites and its voters.

And I’m particularly frustrated because I study partisanship and know how damn strong it is.  But even I didn’t realize it was that damn strong.  Among other things, as discussing with Jon K via email today, it is clearly stronger than religious faith (how else to explain so many Jesus-loving Evangelicals whole-heartedly embracing a man like Trump).

Anyway, lots more good stuff in Roberts article– I especially like the part on how Clinton was victimized by the media– but the biggest takeaway for me from this election was that a candidate as fabulously flawed as Trump still got 90% of his partisans to vote for him.

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