Who will win the Georgia Senate seats?

January 4, 2021 • 12:00 pm

The rational among us will be hoping that, in tomorrow’s Georgia senatorial runoff elections, both Democrats will win. For if they do, the Dems will have the Presidency, the House, and the Senate, and stuff can actually get done. But both elections are tossups, though I think the Democrats’ lead is widening. According to FiveThirtyEight (see below, click screenshot for more), each Democrat is leading by about 2%, but that’s well within the margin of error.

If you go to the article, you’ll see that, despite the data, you can make a case for either party (Nathaniel does so for the Democrats; Geoffrey for the Republicans). Just for fun, since we’ll know what happens by the end of the week, we’ll do a poll. And VOTE, damn you!

How many Senate seats will the Democrats win in Georgia?

View Results

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A Marquette University poll on early Senate voting on Supreme Court nominees, and our poll on “packing the court”

September 20, 2020 • 12:15 pm

UPDATE: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has become the second Republican Senator to oppose Supreme Court hearings before election day (and presumably after if Biden wins). We need two more GOP Senators to defect to derail Trump’s urgent attempt to replace RBG with a conservative.


As I recall, I favored the appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in March, 2016, when Obama’s pick was derailed by Mitch McConnell. With the wisdom of hindsight, I’m not sure that that was a wise opinion on my part. Although I didn’t want the court to go with eight judges for ten months, the court is usually in recess in July, August, and September, which would have been seven months.  Also, I was an Obama supporter, and I can’t be sure that my view back then wasn’t politically motivated, and that’s not right.

Now, however, I’m vehemently opposed to Trump’s trying to get an RBG replacement pushed through the Senate before election day (or, barring that, before Biden is sworn in). And I’m not sure how much a role politics plays in this new view, either. Let me just say that from now on I’ll try to oppose filling court vacancies when a Presidential party is likely to change within the year, though leaving a court with eight justices is not a good thing at any time. Obama was in his last term in 2016, and Trump may very well be in his last term now (fingers crossed). In both cases, we’re facing a short-term President versus a Supreme Court justice who will likely sit on the bench for decades. Those appointments shouldn’t be rushed, and should belong to a President who has some years left in office.

I’m puzzled, then, at the results of this Marquette University Law School poll.  It’s a survey of 1523 voters taken between September 8 and 15, before Ginsburg had died. A lot of it is about the importance of Court nominations (they are very important, despite only a bit more than half of the voters thinking they’re “very important” as opposed to “somewhat important” or “not that important.” (56% of Dems versus 48% of Republicans think Court appointments are “very important”.)

Read the other poll results, bearing on today’s issues, by clicking on the screenshot below:

There’s clear politics at work in the party breakdown of how people regarded the absence of hearings on Merrick Garland, with many more Democrats (but still more than half of Republicans) thinking that not holding the hearings was wrong:

But this is what baffles me. Here’s the result when respondents were asked whether, if a vacancy occurred during this election year, the Senate should hold hearings on a nominee:

In this case, Republicans and Democrats aren’t that different: 68% of the former and 63% of the latter want hearings held, so the political difference in opinions vis-à-vis Garland hearings has disappeared. It’s curious, though, that rushing through a nomination in this situation would seem to be inadvisable, especially as Trump’s not doing that well—yet most Democrats favor holding hearings despite the likelihood that with a Republican Senate we’re likely to get a conservative Justice sworn to overturn previous decisions like Roe v. Wade.

One more question was asked: should we increase the number of justices? Several Democrats, including the often irritating Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have suggested “packing the Supreme Court,” that is, increasing the number of justices as a way of making up for the conservative majority of Justices appointed by Republican Presidents. The increase would have to be by at least two to keep an odd number of Justices. Well, 61% of Democrats favor packing the court as opposed to 34% of Republicans, which makes political sense, though perhaps not democratic (small “d”) sense. I don’t think we should play politics with the Court to this extent).

What do you think? Here’s a poll:

Lagniappe for voting (h/t Blue): RBG’s good friend Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio’s head legal correspondent, gives a lovely remembrance of the late Justice.

The worries about “fake votes”

August 23, 2020 • 10:45 am

I’m still baffled not only by Trump’s repeated insistence, in the face of all the facts, that mail-in voting leads to fraud, but by the public’s worries that Trump will, if he loses—and I fervently hope he does—make a claim of election fraud that couldn’t be quickly resolved. Yes, maybe we’ll have to wait a while until all the mailed-in ballots are counted, but I’ll bet anyone $50 that Trump will lose both the popular and the electoral-college vote, and if he makes trouble I’d hope that the Supreme Court, conservative as it is, could settle the issue.

(Trump’s repeated and dark comments about vote fraud and about the Post Office are another issue, and I think he could be impeached for making these threats.)

But I can’t agree with Frank Bruni in his New York Times op-ed today—a rather scattered piece that doesn’t get to the point (in the title) very quickly. Click on the screenshot to read.

Of course it’s ridiculous that you can win the popular vote, as Hillary Clinton did by three million votes, and still lose the Presidency. Such is the  Electoral College, and it should be changed. But it won’t this time. Regardless, Trump appears to be behind in key “battleground” states essential to a Republican victory.  Still, Bruni claims that Biden will need a “landslide” to win the Electoral College:

Well beyond the convention, I hear people worrying about their votes being thrown away; about what happens if Trump is ahead on Election Day and falls behind only when the mail-in ballots are counted; about how large a margin of victory in the popular vote will be needed to guarantee triumph in the Electoral College; about how resounding an Electoral College triumph will be necessary to make Trump shut up.

These questions aren’t the products of Trump Derangement Syndrome. They’re the fruits of exposure to Trump. They’re also the legacy of Clinton’s defeat in 2016, when there was such a strong sense that the will of a majority of people fell prey to freaky, funky twists. A lesson was learned, and Democrats are now heeding it: To eke out a victory, you need a landslide.

Well, I’d count a landslide as 60% of the popular vote, not the 48.2% that Clinton got (Trump got 46.1%).  And what I don’t understand—maybe I’m being obtuse here—is if Trump’s repeated messages about “fake votes” discourages people from voting, which is what Bruni really seems to be worried about, why would Democrats be even more discouraged than Republicans? It seems to me that Trump’s behavior around this election would energize Democrats eager to heave the narcissist out of office. Bruni’s editorial seems to me to be saying, “All the brouhaha will just make the Democratic voters say, “Ah, hell, I’m just gong to stay home.” (I’ve already registered to vote by mail.) And that doesn’t make sense—at least not in the sense of discouraging Democrats more than Republicans.

But read for yourself and weigh in below. I also have a poll, just for fun.

First, Sarah Cooper at the Democratic National Convention: first her lip-synching and then her own message. I know all of you will be voting, so I don’t think I have to tell you to get your tuchas to the polls, or do a write-in ballot.

Please vote, as I’m curious about what people think:

POLITICO poll: A plurality of Americans think “cancel culture” has gone too far

July 22, 2020 • 1:00 pm

Well, my title comes from the headline of this article in POLITICO describing a poll that it took along with the firm Morning Consult to suss out what Americans think about cancel culture (henceforth “CC”). Everything jibes—until you get to the end.  Click on the screenshot to read.

I’ve put below the poll’s main conclusions about cancel culture, defined by the pollsters (and posed to the respondents) as “the practice of withdrawing support for (or canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.” That’s a bit milder than Ross Douthat’s definition of CC as ‘. . . an attack on someone’s employment and reputation by a determined collective of critics, based on an opinion or an action that is alleged to be disgraceful and disqualifying.” In the POLITICO definition, you suffer by having “support” withdrawn; in Douthat’s, you suffer a loss of reputation and/or your job. (POLITICO, by the way, appears to be a mildly liberal site, but pretty much centrist.)

So, taking into account this milder definition, here’s POLITICO’s polling results (their words are indented):

1.) A plurality of Americans think cancel culture has gone too far and is harmful to society. 

Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming. A plurality (46%) of Americans believe that cancel culture “has gone too far.” About a quarter of Americans — many of whom are perhaps blissfully offline — said they didn’t know or had no opinion on the matter. When they are removed from the results, a clear majority — across almost every demographic category — says that cancel culture has gone too far.

Twenty-seven percent of voters said cancel culture had a somewhat positive or very positive impact on society, but almost half (49%) said it had a somewhat negative or very negative impact.

2.) Most of the polled didn’t participate in CC, and those who did are mostly on the Left rather than the Right. 

While online shaming may seem like a major preoccupation for the public if you spend a lot of time on Twitter, only 40% of voters say they have participated in cancel culture and only one in 10 say they participate “often.” It appears to be more of a liberal pursuit: Half of Democrats have shared their dislike of a public figure on social media after they did something objectionable, while only a third of Republicans say they have.

If this result be true, it goes against the contention that the Left and Right are both equally culpable in CC activities. And the greater propensity of the Left to cancel is supported by data from FIRE’s disinvitation database over the last ten years or so, showing that most “cancellations” at colleges, i.e., disinvitations to speak or get honorary degrees, comes from the Left rather than the Right.

And the general association of CC with the Left will give a boost (hopefully not a big one) to Donald Trump’s bid for reelection.

3.) Older people are less likely to cancel. 

Note the link in the excerpt below.

Age is one of the most reliable predictors of one’s views. Members of Generation Z are the most sympathetic to punishing people or institutions over offensive views, followed closely by Millenials, while GenXers and Baby Boomers have the strongest antipathy towards it. Cancel culture is driven by younger voters. A majority (55%) of voters 18-34 say they have taken part in cancel culture, while only about a third (32%) of voters over 65 say they have joined a social media pile-on. The age gap may partially explain why Ernest Owens, a millennial journalist, responded to Obama’s criticism with a New York Times op-ed that amounted to a column-length retort of “OK, boomer.”

I have to say that this goes along with my own experience, which of course is anecdotal. Get off my lawn, Generation Zers!

There are other results as well, but I’ll give just one more:

4.) Most Americans aren’t aware of the kind of CC activities we discuss here, but those who are are anti-CC.

Not surprisingly, the POLITICO poll reveals that many Americans aren’t paying attention to many of these controversies. We asked about the Weiss resignation and the Harper’s letter. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed didn’t know about or had no opinion of the Weiss controversy and 42 percent didn’t know about or had no opinion of what, in the insular world of Acela corridor media, has become known as The Letter. [JAC: the letter in Harper’s.]

But in both of those cases for those Americans who did offer an opinion, the anti-cancel culture warriors had the majority view: 56% approved of The Letter and 70% approved of [Bari] Weiss’s decision to quit “because of perceived harassment and her perception of self-censorship within the New York Times due to Twitter.”

The article goes on to describe what they see as a cooling of CC, like the recent NYT article that wasn’t too hard on Steve Pinker (it’s striking that this is taken for evidence that cancel culture is losing steam), or the pushback by some journalists like Matt Taibbi (see yesterday’s post).

But at the end of the POLITICO piece, there’s one polling result that seems to undercut the rest, with most people saying there should be “social consequences” to expressing unpopular opinions:

In the POLITICO poll, 53% agreed with the statement that “even though free speech is protected, people should expect social consequences for expressing unpopular opinions in public, even those that are deeply offensive to other people,” while only 31% said their view was closer to the following: “There should not be social consequences for expressing unpopular opinions in public, even those that are deeply offensive to other people because free speech is protected.”

Now whether this contradicts the rest of the poll of course depends on what you mean by “social consequences.” I’m just guessing, but I interpret this as meaning more than just “verbal pushback” or “arguments against your views.” Rather, I take it to mean “social consequences” like demonization of a person or even calls for firing. Yes, of course if you express white supremacy or Nazism in public, you’re going to suffer a decline in your reputation (that’s one of the arguments for allowing free speech: to out the deplorables). But CC goes further than this in trying to attack someone’s entire character for much milder speech, and in reporting them to their bosses to get them fired.  I wish POLITICO had been more specific in this question about the definition of “social consequences.”

h/t: Greg Mayer

Results of yesterday’s election poll

July 5, 2020 • 8:30 am

We got a decent response to yesterday’s question about who will win the Presidential election in November. Here are the results as of 5 a.m. today.

By a more than three-to-one margin, readers thought that Biden would take it, although 19% thought Trump would win.

There was a good discussion, with some readers even suggesting (inaccurately, I think) that, should he lose, Trump would refuse to relinquish the Presidency. Juvenile though he is, I don’t think even he would pull that boneheaded move. Others thought that Trump would withdraw his candidacy if he saw imminent defeat. I think that would count as a Biden victory, for I see no replacement Republican who could beat Biden.

Of course things will change, but I suspect they’ll change in ways amenable to a Biden victory. Some thought that even the Senate would go Democratic, giving us a Democratic President and both houses of Congress.  Of course, I would have preferred a candidate other than Biden (Warren and Buttigieg were early favorites for me), but so long as the Democratic prez surrounds himself with a good staff, and I’m pretty sure he will (Obama can help advise here), we’ll do a lot better than we’re doing now.

Pew survey of American Democrats and their views on Biden as an “old white male”: some good news and some puzzling news

April 22, 2020 • 8:45 am

This new article by Pew Research reports a survey of American Democrats, asking them if they were bothered by the fact that the Democratic Presidential nominee (Biden of course) is “a white man in his 70s.” The results are pretty much as you expect—most people don’t care that much (especially given his opponent!), but there’s one surprising result. Click on the screenshot to read the short report:

First, as the figure below shows (it also displays the question posed to people), the people least concerned with Biden being an “old white male” are, of course, those who originally supported Biden (79% aren’t bothered). But those who backed other candidates show more concern, except those who backed Sanders—the other old white male (79% not bothered). Those who originally favored either Warren (an old white woman) or Buttigieg (a young white gay male) were, as expected, more bothered  (26% and 43% not bothered, respectively.  Overall, 59% of total Dems aren’t that bothered about Biden’s age and race.

But the good news is that regardless of whether Dems are bothered by the OWM (old white male) syndrome, they are overwhelmingly in favor of Biden when he’s put up against Trump. 89% of all Dems disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job (8% approve!), with most of the disapproval being “strong”. The disapproval is a bit stronger among those who are worried about Biden being an OWM. But there’s no difference when it comes to voting: among all Dems surveyed, 85% intend to vote for Biden or lean towards him (4% are Trump/lean Trump!), with 10% being “neither or others”. When you divide up the Dems by whether they’re concerned about Biden’s being an OWM, there’s hardly any difference between the degree to which the two groups favor Biden:

This is heartening in that it shows that Democrats have largely come together behind one candidate, even though, as I believe—many interviewees must feel the same way—that Biden is not an overwhelmingly fantastic candidate. Still, only 85% of Dems say at this point they’ll probably vote for Biden. If too many Dems stay home because they wanted Sanders or Warren to be the nominee, we’ll be screwed.

But there is one surprising result. If you break down the Democrats by race, age, gender, ideology, and education, and ask them if they’re bothered by Biden being an OWM, here’s what you get (the red box is one I’ve added):

Men and women are about the same, and, as you might expect, the younger and more educated people are more bothered by the OWM syndrome (they are more likely, I think, to be more conscious of racial equity given the climate among liberals). The difference between postgraduates on one hand and those who had some high school education but no college on the other, is huge: 58% vs 24% respectively are bothered by the fact that Biden’s an OWM.

What surprised me was the division among races. I would have expected that minorities—African-Americans and Hispanics—would have been more bothered by OWM, for no candidate represents them, though the withdrawn candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris identify as black. But while 49% of white Democrats are bothered by Biden being an OWM, only 28% of blacks and 30% of Hispanics are.

It’s clear, then, that white Democrats are more bothered by OWM candidates than are blacks or Hispanics.  That’s not what I expected.

Now I can make up post facto theories (which are mine) about why this is so. For instance, you could say that blacks and Hispanics, who are overwhelmingly Democratic, are so relieved that Biden got the nomination—he polls more strongly in those communities than Buttigieg, Warren, or Sanders—that they don’t much care if he’s an OWM. Or one could say that this reflects white guilt. I’ve heard that the most woke antiracists are in fact white, but until now I had no data supporting that.

Or perhaps there’s another explanation. If you have a theory which is yours, put it in the comments below.

h/t: cesar

What happened to the election?

April 5, 2020 • 8:30 am

On March 17 I noted that I’d made a $100 bet with a friend that Donald Trump would lose his bid for a second term come November.  My reasons were these:

Now that Trump has bungled the handling of the epidemic, makes daily statements about it so palpably stupid that even a “deplorable” can see through them, and gives himself a ten out of ten in handling the crisis, I think his chances of victory are even slimmer. And that’s on top of the economy, which is heading south so fast it will reach Antarctica before the summer.

Since then Trump has screwed up even more, repeatedly making dumb and even harmful assertions (“I might take chloroquine”), backtracking (pews filled by Easter!), praising himself, denigrating others (including governors) and generally looking like the narcissistic moron he is. It’s on view daily.  And yet. . . his approval rating is as high as it’s ever been since right after he was elected: here’s the latest from FiveThirtyEight (click on screenshot to see more):


He’s declared himself a “war president”, clearly to bolster his popularity, despite the fact that he claimed that the virus was no big deal and the country would get over it quickly. (Then, of course, he backtracked, but now is sending mixed messages, still dangling the possibility of pew-filled churches on Easter). Easter is a week from today.

So, have you heard anything from Biden lately? I thought not. And it’s not really Joe’s fault, as anything beside coronavirus gets pushed from the news. On last night’s NBC News, for instance, the entire show was devoted to the pandemic, except for the obligatory “feel good” segment at the end (which is usually connected with the pandemic as well). That’s not the fault of the news: the virus is pretty much what we want to hear about.

But we’ve forgotten that there’s an election in November, and it’s our only chance to heave the moron President out on his tuchas.  People are going to forget about Biden, and that, combined with Trump being a President (however dreadful) in a crisis, would seem to bolster the chance of an Orange Man reelection. I’m worried: can we, or our republic, really stand another four years of this man? (Remember that Biden is not a man who excites me, but he’s surely better than Trump.)

Well, have your say in the comments, and here’s another poll:

I’m nervous.

Can’t we please get rid of political polls? (And our own political poll. . .)

February 3, 2020 • 10:45 am

Yes, I understand that some people need political polls: candidates need numbers to stay in the race, organizations need data to decide whom to support, sociologists need to monitor the political heartbeat of America. But I don’t like them as a way to tell people how the candidates are doing. They create a “herd effect,” in which people may tend to vote for whoever’s ahead, following the crowd rather than their own heart. This is more a problem in the primaries, I guess, than in the general Presidential election, because by November the polls are largely irrelevant in whether you vote for Trump or Democrat X.

And polls make people anxious: we all become like gamblers, obsessively following the odds. It was the polls that got so many people depressed four years ago: right up to the last minute many of them predicted a Clinton victory. And when the results came in, those hopes were bitterly dashed.

We can’t ban polls, of course, but I wish people would pay less attention to them (and I say that even though I do pay attention to them).

At any rate, tonight begins the Iowa caucus, which gives that small state unwarranted power in picking the Democratic nominee. This state caucus is not a traditional vote in which each Iowa voter’s choice is tallied, but a very complicated process in which voters gather in places and stand in groups, trying to recruit other people to join their candidate-specific group (see the explanations here and here).

I won’t tell you who’s leading in Iowa, but just for fun answer below which Democratic candidate do you think will “win”.




Pew: Americans know bupkes about religion (and test yourself)

July 28, 2019 • 9:15 am

In a poll of Americans’ religious knowledge reported this week by Pew, two things were revealed. First, most Americans don’t know much about religion—either theirs or that of other believers. Second, it is the atheists, agnostics, and Jews who rank highest on religious knowledge.

You can read the long report, which gives the 32 questions, by clicking on the first screenshot below. But before you do that, take a 15-question quiz (apparently an abbreviated version of what Pew asked people) by clicking on the second screenshot. Do it! You know you want to!

Pew asked 10,971 people, selected, as usual, from landline and cellphone numbers dialed randomly, and state that the “margin of sampling error” (presumably the standard error of the mean) is “plus or minus 1.5 percentage points”. Now, click on the second screenshot that says “Before you read the report”, and then on the brown “next” bar to see how much you know about religion.



First, some braggadocio: I aced the test. Here are my results:

But is that surprising? After all, among all respondents, Jews answered the most questions correctly (18.7 out of 32) and atheists the next most (17.9/32); see below. As an atheist Jew, I was ideally positioned to know about religion—and I wrote a book about science and faith that involved reading a lot about religion, including plowing through the Bible and the Qur’an (the Book of Mormon defeated me). Report your results below, and be honest!

Now, you’re allowed to go back to the first link and see all the questions, and how people did.

As you see from the mini-quiz above, the average number of questions answered by Americans was about half: 7.4 out of 15. In the overall survey, the mean number of questions answered was 14 out of 32. Here’s how the different groups did. Note that “nothing in particular” (which I suppose are the “nones” who don’t say they are atheists are agnostics, scored below the mean, as did the “historically black Protestants,” who got fewer than a third of the questions right:

FiveThirtyEight has a useful summary of the main results (this is a direct quote):

  1. Many Americans know some basic facts about major religions and belief systems — and not just Christianity. Seventy-nine percent of respondents knew that, in Christianity, the Trinity is one God in three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and that Moses led the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt, a tenet of both Christianity and Judaism. Sixty-two percent of respondents knew that Mecca is Islam’s holiest city and a place of pilgrimage, while 60 percent knew that Ramadan is an Islamic holy month. Atheism (87 percent correctly described it as not believing in God) is better understood than agnosticism (61 percent answered correctly that it means being unsure of the existence of God).
  2. It gets murky for people outside of the basics. Respondents really struggled with some questions. For example, only 24 percent answered correctly that Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year, similar to the number (26 percent) who knew that Islam is the religion of most people in Indonesia. Even some Christian doctrines and facts are not that well-known — despite it being the faith of about 70 percent of Americans. Only 51 percent correctly said that Jesus is the person known for giving the “Sermon on the Mount,” a number I thought was low considering that’s a fairly important event in Christianity. (The other possible answers were Peter, Paul and John.) And just 22 percent of Americans could describe the “prosperity gospel,” which is generally associated with evangelical Christians. (Pew defined it as the tenet that “those of strong faith will be blessed by God with financial success and good health.”)
  3. Americans really don’t know the number of Jewish and Muslim people living in the U.S. According to Pew Research estimates, about 2 percent of American adults are Jewish and 1 percent are Muslim. But only 26 percent of respondents answered correctly that Muslims make up less than 5 percent of the population in the U.S. And only 19 percent knew that the share of Jewish Americans is also below 5 percent. Most either thought the Muslim American and Jewish populations were each larger than 5 percent or didn’t know. But I suspect that the explanation for these inaccurate responses might not totally be about how much Americans know about these two religions but may instead be related to broader issues of innumeracy. Other research has shown that Americans have inaccurate views about the size of many demographic groups and may be particularly likely to overstate the size of groups of which they are not a part. For example, Republicans vastly overestimate the number of Democrats who are black.
  4. Some groups answered more questions correctly than others. On average, respondents answered 14 of the 32 questions correctly. But people who are Jewish (19 correct responses on average), atheist (18) and agnostic (17) scored the best.

I’ll add to that a few more tidbits:

a.) The amount of education you have is strongly associated with how well you answered the questions. That’s not surprising, as general education, even if not religious, exposes you to what different faiths believe. And if you’ve taken a world religions class, you do better than if you didn’t, though not as well as general college graduates. Here are the Pew figures:

b.) Catholics don’t know important dictates of their own faiths.  Pew says this:

Half of Catholics in the United States (50%) correctly answer a question about official church teachings on transubstantiation – that during Communion, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. The other half of Catholics incorrectly say the church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion are just symbols of the body and blood of Christ (45%) or say they are not sure (4%).

Lordy, isn’t that something that all of us know? It’s not a damn metaphor! (But DNA and protein tests can’t be used to test it.)

c.) Only 1/5 of Americans know about that the doctrine of sola fide (described by Pew as “salvation comes through faith alone”) is characteristic of Protestantism and not Catholicism (the latter faith maintains that salvation comes through works, deeds, and acts, like baptism).  As Pew reports:

Just one-in-five Americans (20%) know that Protestantism traditionally teaches that salvation comes through faith alone, a key theological issue in the Protestant Reformation.  One-in-ten incorrectly believe that Catholicism teaches that salvation comes through faith alone, while the remainder of adults declined to offer a response in the survey (38%) or wrongly state that both Protestantism and Catholicism teach this (23%) or that neither Christian tradition teaches this (8%). Evangelical Protestants are more likely than other groups to know the traditional Protestant teaching, though even among evangelicals, far fewer than half (37%) answer the question correctly.

Well, I’m sure some of you will be thinking that atheists did well because they really knew about the doctrines of the faiths they rejected. But that can’t be the whole story, as the questions are about many beliefs: those of Catholics, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, and so on. I suspect that atheists are generally better educated than the average American, though that may be wishful thinking. Also, the Jews did better than the atheists, though I suspect that most American Jews (like me) really are atheists, despite the claims of people like Dave Silverman that atheists can’t say they’re Jews. (Of course many of us do.) Again, I suspect that Jews are better educated than the general population.

But here’s hoping that you readers will take the 15-question quiz and report your scores below. I’ll take an average and standard error after people weigh in. And then be sure to look at all 32 questions given in the long-form Pew report.

Go to it! Who can resist a quiz, especially one on religion?

h/t: Dave

Famous election prognosticator says that House must impeach Trump or he’ll be re-elected

June 2, 2019 • 12:15 pm

So here’s a professor and a respected Presidential prognosticator, Allan Lichtman, who suggests that unless the Democrats impeach Trump, he’ll win again in 2020. Lichtman’s fame in this area, and his bona fides, appear in Wikipedia, which conflicts a bit with what the newswoman says in his introduction:

Allan Jay Lichtman (born April 4, 1947) is an American political historian who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C. He is well known for predicting seven of the last eight election results for the president of the United States Presidential Election since 1984, including forecasting the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election remarkably early. . . In April 2017, Lichtman authored the book The Case for Impeachment, laying out multiple arguments for the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Note that the news anchor below says that Lichtman predicted the last nine presidential elections, while Wikipedia says he predicted seven out of eight.  The exception: “The single failure was the 2000 election, where the model predicted a victory for incumbent party nominee Al Gore.”

Lichtman’s “model” is called “The Keys to the White House,” developed in collaboration with Vladimir Keilis-Borok, and aims to predict not who wins the popular vote, but who wins the White House.  It uses 13 criteria to determine the outcome, shown in the screenshot below. I haven’t sussed out the model, but supposedly when give of the relevant questions are answered in the negative, the incumbent party keeps the Presidency. If six or more are answered in the negative, the party of the presiding President changes.

Now some of the elections were no-brainers, like Obama’s re-election victory. And there are probably plenty of people who predicted 7 of the 8 last elections, so Lichtman isn’t necessarily some kind of wizard. But in the clip below he’s viewed as one, and makes the point that unless the Democrats impeach Trump, he’ll be re-elected.

You might ask yourself, “Well, an impeachment by the House is only a trial, and conviction requires vote of the Republican Senate. So how can he be sucessfully impeached Lichtman answers that below, and I’ll let you listen to the short video.  Then there will be two polling questions for you to answer.

If you’ve heard what he said, answer this question first:

And then this one.

And, of course, weigh in below.