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Why One of Trump’s Biggest Legal Threats Is New York’s Attorney General | FiveThirtyEight
After two years of legal wrangling, the Trump Foundation will soon be no more. Last month, in the midst of a dramatic month for cases that stem from President Trump’s pre-presidency life, a judge signed off on a plan to shutter Trump’s much-criticized personal foundation. Under the new agreement, the foundation will be dissolved under court supervision.
In effect, the deal implies that the foundation cannot be trusted to disburse its remaining $1.7 million to legitimate nonprofits. But even though the foundation is dissolving, the lawsuit against the foundation will continue, with the New York attorney general seeking damages for the foundation’s alleged “extensive and persistent violations of state and federal law,” including the illegal use of foundation money to pay off legal settlements, buy portraits of Trump, and promote Trump’s 2016 campaign.
gov2.0  politics  new_york  legal  trump  538 
2 days ago by rgl7194
We’re All To Blame For The Shutdown | FiveThirtyEight
That’s what the game theorists say, anyway.
At its strategic core, the partial government shutdown — soon to enter a record-breaking 22nd day — is a breakdown of bargaining: two sides, no solution in sight. President Trump and congressional Democrats are engaged in the latest battle of a game that economists have studied for decades. If politicians can’t end the stalemate, surely game theorists can. OK, they can’t. But they can help identify what’s gone wrong, and you and I may be part of the problem.
Let’s start with the basics about what bargaining really is: the allocation of a scarce resource and the setting of a price.
In regular, everyday, one-on-one bargaining, it’s beneficial to act more intransigent than you really are. Suppose you’re trying to sell me a used car, which happens to be worth exactly $1,000 to both of us. While we stand alone on the lot, I’ll say smart, strategic things like, “I’ll pay $800 for this hunk of junk and not a penny more.” And you’ll say smart, strategic things like, “I won’t part with this beauty for any less than $1,200.” And so on we dance around that $1,000 number, eventually arriving at some agreed-upon price at which point I’ll pay you and drive home in my new used car. In traditional game theory models, we’ll always make some deal.
politics  gov2.0  trump  congress  shutdown  538 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Finally, A Personality Quiz Backed By Science | FiveThirtyEight
Your results
Openness to experience
67 out of 100
54 out of 100
67 out of 100
Negative emotionality
46 out of 100
33 out of 100
personality  test  science  psychology  538 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Finally, A Personality Quiz Backed By Science | FiveThirtyEight
Compare your results to those of your friends and family.
What’s your personality, and what can it tell you about your true self? Those questions have launched a thousand online personality quizzes. But you can do better than those specious — yet irresistible — quizzes. You can take a personality quiz backed by science.
Meet the Big Five, the way most psychologists measure and test personality. It’s a system built on decades of research about how people describe one another and themselves. (You can read more about it in this article we published last year.) There are a couple of things that make it — and this quiz — different.
First, the Big Five doesn’t put people into neat personality “types,” because that’s not how personalities really work. Instead, the quiz gives you a score on five different traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, negative emotionality and openness to experience. For each of those traits, you’re graded on a scale from 0 to 100, depending on how strongly you associate with that trait. So, for example, this quiz won’t tell you whether you’re an extravert or an introvert — instead, it tells you your propensity toward extraversion. Every trait is graded on a spectrum, with a few people far out on the extremes and a lot of people in the middle.
science  test  538  psychology  personality 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Party Unity Hasn’t Cracked Under The Weight Of The Shutdown | FiveThirtyEight
Both congressional Democrats and Republicans have demonstrated strong party unity during the partial government shutdown, which has now gone on for 26 days and is the longest shutdown in U.S. history. This level of party discipline echoes what happened in 2017 and 2018, suggesting the midterms didn’t change the broader dynamics in Washington. Intense partisan unity is probably good for President Trump and congressional Democrats politically, but it will likely hurt congressional Republicans. And it’s a really bad sign for the American public.
We don’t know yet if Trump will be able to build the border wall that is at the center of the shutdown. At some point in the next few days or weeks, maybe Trump or congressional Republicans will approve a budget bill without wall funding — or perhaps Democrats will give in and approve some wall funds. Alternatively, Trump could declare a national emergency and attempt to use funds from other federal projects for the wall, thereby potentially sidestepping the impasse with Congress. (Such a move would likely be challenged in court, and the president does not seem inclined to take this step.)
trump  gov2.0  politics  shutdown  538  congress 
6 days ago by rgl7194
What Trump’s Attorney General Pick Could Mean For The Mueller Investigation | FiveThirtyEight
And, you know, criminal justice policy.
At first glance, William Barr is a far more conventional choice for attorney general than Matthew Whitaker, who has been temporarily filling the role since Jeff Sessions resigned at President Trump’s request. Whitaker’s month in office has been marred by questions about whether he would interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which he had previously criticized. If Barr is confirmed quickly, his nomination will also end an ongoing legal debate about whether Whitaker’s appointment, which bypassed the usual succession order, was legitimate. Barr is an established figure in Washington politics, and if confirmed, this will be his second stint at the helm of the Department of Justice — he previously served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993.
But Barr’s appointment could still have big implications for Mueller’s investigation and criminal justice issues more broadly — depending on how similar he is to his two predecessors, both of whom will loom over Barr’s confirmation hearings. Barr, who has deep roots in the drug wars and has a history of pushing for tougher criminal penalties, might seem like an odd choice to lead the Justice Department at a moment when a bipartisan group of senators just succeeded in pushing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a long-awaited sentencing reform bill up for a vote — an effort that the president has supported. But overriding concern about how Barr will supervise the Mueller investigation could allow him to escape significant scrutiny about the issues that will make up the bulk of his job.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  FBI  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
7 days ago by rgl7194
Most Democrats Now Identify As ‘Liberal’ | FiveThirtyEight
Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
This week’s poll(s)
In 2018, for the first time, a majority of Democrats said they considered themselves to be “liberal,” according to Gallup. At 51 percent, the 2018 share is only 1 point greater than the share of Democrats who identified as liberal in 2017, but it’s very different from how Democrats’ political ideologies broke down in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In 1994, during Bill Clinton’s first term, the share of Democrats who identified as liberal and the share who said they were conservative were the same, at 25 percent. Nearly half, or 48 percent, identified as moderate. But around 2000, more Democrats began to identify as liberal and fewer as conservative. Gallup found that from 2002 to 2014, the share of Democrats who said they were liberal grew by roughly 1 percentage point each year. Since 2014, the increase has been about 2 points per year, on average.
survey  Dems  liberal  gov2.0  politics  538 
11 days ago by rgl7194
The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End | FiveThirtyEight
For those of us who spent most of our lives painstakingly separating plastic, glass, paper and metal, single-stream recycling is easy to love. No longer must we labor. Gone is the struggle to store two, three, four or even five different bags under the kitchen sink. Just throw everything into one dumpster, season liberally with hopes and dreams, and serve it up to your local trash collector. What better way to save the planet?
But you can see where this is headed.
Americans love convenient recycling, but convenient recycling increasingly does not love us. Waste experts call the system of dumping all the recyclables into one bin “single-stream recycling.” It’s popular. But the cost-benefit math of it has changed. The benefit — more participation and thus more material put forward for recycling — may have been overtaken by the cost — unrecyclable recyclables. On average, about 25 percent of the stuff we try to recycle is too contaminated to go anywhere but the landfill, according to the National Waste and Recycling Association, a trade group. Just a decade ago, the contamination rate was closer to 7 percent, according to the association. And that problem has only compounded in the last year, as China stopped importing “dirty” recyclable material that, in many cases, has found no other buyer.
recycling  environment  economics  538 
12 days ago by rgl7194
Trump Has Lost Ground In The Shutdown Blame Game | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump again blamed Democrats for the partial government shutdown on Tuesday night, this time in his first primetime national address, saying their unwillingness to approve funds for a border wall had left him no choice but to continue to keep the government shuttered.
Look at the polling data, and you can see why Trump (or his advisers) thought a high-profile move like a national address was needed. We’re currently on Day 19 of the shutdown, but Trump’s efforts to pin the blame on Democrats aren’t working, according to three pollsters who have conducted at least two polls in the two and a half weeks since the government first closed. Rather, polls show that Americans are increasingly blaming Trump.1
Polls conducted in the first few days of the shutdown showed that between 43 percent and 47 percent of Americans blamed Trump most for the shutdown, while about a third blamed congressional Democrats. Polling data had been pretty scarce thereafter, but this week a handful of new polls gave us an updated view of who Americans think is responsible. (We’re looking only at data from pollsters who have conducted two surveys since the shutdown started — one just after it began and one after the new year. This makes for nice apples-to-apples comparisons.)
trump  gov2.0  politics  Dems  congress  538 
12 days ago by rgl7194
Kirk Cousins Is Not Better Than Joe Montana. So Let’s Fix Passer Rating. | FiveThirtyEight
According to the NFL’s official passer rating system, the most efficient quarterback in NFL history is Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, with a lifetime mark of 103.1.1 That makes sense: Rodgers is generally regarded as one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game. But if you scroll further down the list, the results become much harder to explain. In the world of passer rating, Kirk Cousins is better than Joe Montana; Derek Carr and Matt Schaub top Dan Marino; and, after one season, Broadway Sam Darnold is running circles around Broadway Joe Namath.
Passer rating is often criticized as Byzantine (have you seen that formula?), incomplete (it does not include data on rushing plays or sacks) and arbitrary (again, have you looked at the formula?). Yet its biggest shortcoming might be the way it is unmoored from changes in the game itself. Passing has never been more efficient than it was this season, in which the league’s average QB posted a rating of 92.9. That is remarkably high considering that a quarterback who posted a rating of 92.9 would have led all qualified passers in 15 separate seasons from 1950 through 1986. Clearly, the scale needs recalibrating.
football  statistics  ranking  538  rating 
18 days ago by rgl7194
Republicans In Congress Have Been Very Loyal To Trump. Will It Last? | FiveThirtyEight
It’s the first day of business for the newly sworn-in 116th Congress, and House Democrats have already held several votes — on a bill to fund the government and a package of rule changes to House procedures. Both passed, but not without some intraparty tension. As the freshly minted majority party in the House, Democrats must wrestle with the question of how they will vote in this era of divided government. Will they vote together against President Trump’s agenda, or will tensions arise between the more progressive and centrist factions of the party, splintering the Democrats’ newfound power?
Time will tell. But with the 115th Congress now in the books, let’s take a step back and look to it for clues. Last session, House Republicans, then in the majority, were largely aligned with Trump — very few broke ranks.
trump  congress  GOP  politics  gov2.0  538 
19 days ago by rgl7194
Sure, Pelosi Is Unpopular. But Another Democratic Speaker Likely Would Be Too. | FiveThirtyEight
Nancy Pelosi has overcome some opposition from House Democrats and is almost certain to be elected speaker on Thursday. But Pelosi, who was also speaker from 2007 to 2011, is a fairly unpopular figure, and one of the chief arguments of her Democratic critics has been that she will be a drag on the party politically.
Whether she’ll be a drag on other Democratic candidates or not, her critics are right about one thing: Pelosi is not popular. Nevertheless, the California Democrat will not be a unique drag on her party — virtually all congressional leaders are unpopular in modern U.S. politics. Pelosi is unpopular, will likely remain unpopular and may grow even more unpopular, but that would probably be the case for anyone Democrats chose to be speaker.
Take the current crop of Republican and Democratic party leaders in Congress. According to the latest polling average at RealClearPolitics, Pelosi has a 33 percent favorable rating and a 48 percent unfavorable rating. That gives her a -15 point net favorability rating, which is similar to the ratings of outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (-22), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (-10) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (-20).1
congress  gov2.0  pelosi  politics  sexism  women  hate  538 
19 days ago by rgl7194
Trump Docket – FiveThirtyEight
“Trump Docket”
trump  politics  legal  gov2.0  538 
20 days ago by rgl7194
Will The Supreme Court Fast-Track Cases Involving Trump? | FiveThirtyEight
This is the Trump Docket, where we track some of the most important legal cases of the Trump presidency and how their results could shape presidential power. Questions, comments, or thoughts about cases to cover? Email us here.
If the Supreme Court justices have been trying to signal that they want a quiet term — perhaps some time to recover after Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s hyper-partisan confirmation hearings last fall, which may have shaken public faith in the court as an impartial institution — the Trump administration hasn’t gotten the hint.
Over the past few months, the solicitor general’s office has blanketed the court with requests to bypass the normal legal process and rule swiftly in high-profile cases. Even after the court rebuffed attempts to halt the first Census trial and a climate-change lawsuit, the Trump administration kept trying, asking the justices to cancel an injunction against Trump’s asylum ban. In an even more unusual move, the White House also asked the court to leapfrog lower courts and intervene in cases involving Trump’s decision to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the administration’s policy against transgender military servicemembers.
trump  politics  legal  gov2.0  SCOTUS  538 
20 days ago by rgl7194
How Elizabeth Warren Could Win The 2020 Democratic Primary | FiveThirtyEight
It’s as if we skipped right from 2018 to 2020. On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the first major Democratic candidate to formally dip a toe in the water of the 2020 presidential campaign, announcing the creation of an exploratory committee. Not everyone who creates an exploratory committee ends up becoming an official candidate, but Warren is very likely to. For all intents and purposes, she is now running for president.
Warren has experienced a swift rise, if not a meteoric one, to political stardom. A celebrated consumer advocate and law professor, she oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program (better known as the post-financial crisis “bailout”) and shepherded the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during President Obama’s first term. In 2012, she ran for and won elected office for the first time, defeating Republican incumbent Scott Brown 54 percent to 46 percent in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts; she was re-elected by 24 points in 2018. Though not quite at the level of the current Beto-mania, she’s had her moments as a progressive folk hero — a viral video on fair taxation that helped clear the field for her first Senate campaign and Mitch McConnell’s swag-spawning complaint that “Nevertheless, she persisted” after she was cut off in the middle of a speech on the Senate floor.
2020s  congress  election  gov2.0  politics  POTUS  warren  538 
20 days ago by rgl7194
Michelle Obama Is The Most Powerful Person In Politics Who Hates Politics | FiveThirtyEight
In the calm before 2020, FiveThirtyEight is taking a look at the ideas and people who are nudging the country’s rapidly changing political conversation in one direction or the other. We’re calling these people and ideas “nudgers.” (Creative, we know.) Our second nudger? Michelle Obama.
“If you make me miss Michelle, that’s grounds for breaking up,” a young woman said into her phone Wednesday night in Brooklyn. She was crossing the street to get to the Barclays Center, where former first lady Michelle Obama was speaking. While most authors struggle to corral their mother’s friends into a bookstore, Obama is a month into a six-month-long worldwide stadium book tour. The events are political rallies masquerading as pop culture phenomena. The talk brought out vendors selling bootlegged T-shirts with her face on them and “Black Is Beautiful” pins. Women, many of them dressed to the nines, some still in workwear, streamed into the stadium.
leadership  politics  news  obama  michelle  Dems  538  books 
24 days ago by rgl7194
Mattis Leaving Might Be The Most Important Trump Administration Exit Yet | FiveThirtyEight
Every time some high-level member of the Trump administration leaves, the staff at FiveThirtyEight debate whether it’s a big deal — and therefore whether we should cover it. Sometimes the consequences of these departures are over-hyped. Sometimes the consequences aren’t clear, so there’s not much to do but speculate. But Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s resignation on Thursday is a big deal. A really big deal.
First and foremost, Mattis quit in protest, naming President Trump’s Russia policies along the way. The reasons behind most departures from the Trump administration up to now have been kind of opaque. A person quits or resigns, and we’re not totally sure why. They rarely give direct reasons for their departure — we’re left only with unnamed sources speculating in news stories. Mattis’s exit was different. On Department of Defense letterhead, he explained that he was stepping down not because he was tired of government service or wanted to spend more time with his family, but because he disagreed with Trump on significant policy issues. Mattis said that the U.S. needed to be more confrontational with countries who embrace an “authoritarian model,” and named Russia and China as those countries. The obvious implication is that Mattis basically agrees with Trump’s critics outside of the administration who believe the president is insufficiently critical of Russia in particular.
538  foreign_relations  gov2.0  military  politics  trumpcare 
24 days ago by rgl7194
How Cable News Covered Mueller In 2018 | FiveThirtyEight
MSNBC mentioned him almost every day. Fox News mentioned him less.
For a guy who does his work mostly behind closed doors (and occasionally in airport waiting areas), special counsel Robert Mueller sure is on the news a lot. It’s been a year of indictments, subpoenas and guilty pleas, of online rage and attempted firings, and of “Witch Hunts” and “Angry Democrats” (to quote the president). Cable news has been there every step of the way. In case you missed all the fun (and if you did, please let us know how), here’s a look back at the year that was in the Mueller investigation — as lived through CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, courtesy of data from the TV News Archive.1
On average, every day, these three networks devoted 3 percent of their news coverage — not counting commercials and non-news programming — to Mueller in 2018. (TV News Archive measures this by chopping all the news into 15-second clips and counting how many mention the word “Mueller.” By comparison, President Trump’s name showed up in 13 percent of these networks’ news coverage this past year.) CNN sat in the middle of the networks with its Mueller coverage, averaging about 3.1 percent. MSNBC averaged around 4.2 percent, while Fox News averaged around 1.7 percent.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  cable_tv  news  538 
24 days ago by rgl7194
Republicans Killed Much Of Obamacare Without Repealing It | FiveThirtyEight
Saturday was the deadline for Americans in most states to enroll in health plans for 2019 through the marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act. When Barack Obama was in office, the federal government, including the president himself, spent the days and weeks before the deadline constantly urging people to sign up. But this year, like in 2017, President Trump and the federal government did little outreach.
That hands-off approach to ACA enrollment isn’t an accident or an oversight. It’s part of an intense, sustained, nearly nine-year-long Republican campaign to stop or limit the implementation of the ACA, better known as Obamacare. (A group of Republicans filed a lawsuit against the ACA minutes after President Obama signed it into law on March 23, 2010.)
“Virtually no major health reform has become the subject of a partisan assault so quickly after its passage,” said Philip Rocco, a Marquette University political science professor and co-author of the 2016 book “Obamacare Wars.”
health  insurance  obamacare  gov2.0  trump  politics  GOP  538 
24 days ago by rgl7194
How We View Our Reality Shapes Our Politics. But Facts Still Matter. | FiveThirtyEight
Earlier this year, National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar noted that President Trump had benefited politically from the perception that the economy was improving more than it had during the Obama administration. “We’ll see if it lasts,” he tweeted, “but in politics perception is reality.”
The claim that perception is reality has long been a maxim in politics. That’s particularly true as it relates to the economy. And with the 2020 presidential election ramping up, how Americans feel about their financial well-being, and the country’s, has come to the foreground again. But is perception really reality? Or does reality matter — regardless of how people feel?
politics  gov2.0  factcheck  538  economics 
24 days ago by rgl7194
California Dominates Among House Democrats. What Does That Mean For The Next Congress? | FiveThirtyEight
California is huge — it has 39.5 million residents, making it the largest state in the U.S. by population. As a result, it has by far the most House members — 53 in total. Texas, by comparison, is the second-most-populous state and only has 36 representatives. So it’s not necessarily surprising that California is sending more Democrats to Congress than is any other state — 46 Democratic representatives in the new Congress will be from California. Still, since the end of World War II, the House’s majority party has never had this large a share of its membership come from a single state.
The state that had the most members in a party’s caucus in a given year has always, of course, been one of the more populous states, like New York, Pennsylvania or Texas. But those large states hold a bigger share of the caucus when they’re dominated by a single party, like California is now. For instance, in the 1946 election, Texas elected Democrats to all 21 of its House seats, which amounted to 11 percent of all House Democrats; the party was in the minority that year after a GOP wave. And New York, which had the most representatives before California took over, sometimes had more seats than any other state in both parties’ caucuses, as it did in 1948 and 1960. Back when California was less of a single-party state, it occasionally pulled off the same feat, including as recently as 2006, when it led the Democratic caucus and tied Texas for the lead in the GOP caucus.
gov2.0  politics  state  congress  california  538  Dems 
24 days ago by rgl7194
How MSG Got A Bad Rap: Flawed Science And Xenophobia | FiveThirtyEight
As a college student in New York City, I marveled that the city let me eat poached eggs with halloumi cheese and Moroccan spiced pita for breakfast, a spicy-sweet minced meat salad from northern Thailand for lunch, and Singaporean nasi lemak for dinner. My requisites were pretty straightforward: delicious, cheap and served in bulk. But if I was eating Chinese, I added one more: no MSG.
Like many people, I thought MSG — monosodium glutamate, a chemical compound used to enhance the flavor of food — was bad for me, and I was sure I felt terrible every time I ate it. After all, I was sluggish and had headaches and achy limbs whenever I ate a big meal in Chinatown. Now I know that the recurring headaches that plague me have little to do with what I eat. But at the time, avoiding those three letters brought me comfort and let me think I’d be eating some sort of sacredly pure meal made with food, not chemicals. Oh, how young and foolish I was.
food  umami  538  science  cooking 
25 days ago by rgl7194
Why It Might Be Impossible To Overturn A Presidential Pardon | FiveThirtyEight
If the American president has a superpower, it might be the ability to grant pardons. With the stroke of a pen, the president can wipe away the consequences of a federal criminal conviction, without having to ask permission from Congress or prepare for a battle in the courts. In the past, presidents have used this power in a variety of sweeping and controversial ways, perhaps most famously when Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for any crimes he might have committed while in office.
But President Trump has an undeniably expansive and unusual view of the pardon power. He has declared that he has the ability to pardon himself, but that question is far from settled, in part because no other president has tried to do it. And his recent refusal to rule out a pardon for his former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, who tanked a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, has prompted speculation about whether Trump is considering pardoning Manafort or other subjects of the Russia investigation.
gov2.0  politics  trump  legal  538 
6 weeks ago by rgl7194
Trump Hasn’t Needed The Wall To Remake U.S. Immigration Policy | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump and congressional Democrats are fighting over how much the U.S. government should spend on Trump’s proposed border wall, risking another government shutdown because of a dispute over immigration policy. However those negotiations turn out, though, here’s the thing: The massive wall, which Trump has said would stretch 1,000 miles across the U.S.-Mexico border, is very unlikely to be built, at least at that size. Mexico is not paying for it, and Congress is unlikely to put up much money for it.
You could call the wall’s meager prospects a major defeat for Trump, but that risks missing the point. The wall is something of an abstraction. Trump, in his two years in office, has already made U.S. policy much, much more resistant to immigration — without Congress agreeing to his wall or really any of his immigration ideas. There is no physical wall, but there are all kinds of new barriers for people who want to come to the United States and for undocumented immigrants who want to stay.
Here’s what we can measure, over the past two years...
trump  gov2.0  politics  immigration  538 
6 weeks ago by rgl7194
How FiveThirtyEight’s 2018 Midterm Forecasts Did | FiveThirtyEight
On Nov. 5, the night before last month’s midterms, I got dinner with Sean Trende from RealClearPolitics. Over the years, Sean and I have learned to stare into the abyss and play out various “unthinkable” scenarios in our head. Sure, it was unlikely, but what if Republicans won the popular vote for the House, as a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted just before the election suggested? Or what if Democrats won it by about 15 percentage points, as a Los Angeles Times poll had it? What if polls were just so screwed up that there were a ton of upsets in both directions?
Instead, the election we wound up with was one where everything was quite … dare I say it? … predictable. Polls and forecasts, including FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, were highly accurate and did about as well as you could expect. So let’s go through how our forecast, in particular, performed: I’ll brag about what it got right, along with suggesting some areas where — despite our good top-line numbers — there’s potentially room to improve in 2020.
538  election  congress  state  statistics  review 
6 weeks ago by rgl7194
Michael Cohen Is The 33rd Person Mueller Has Charged — And Could Be Among The Most Important | FiveThirtyEight
After a quiet period, there was a potential blockbuster development in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign this morning, when the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, made a surprise appearance in a Manhattan courtroom to plead guilty to making false statements to Congress.
According to the formal charging document, Cohen lied about a Trump real-estate deal in Russia — specifically, the “Trump Tower Moscow” project. This doesn’t prove that members of Trump’s 2016 campaign coordinated with Russia. But according to the document, discussions of the Trump Tower Moscow project went on for longer than Cohen had previously indicated, and Trump was aware of the discussions. According to Cohen’s plea deal, he is cooperating with the special counsel investigation.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
7 weeks ago by rgl7194
Magnus Carlsen Is, Again, The World Chess Champion | FiveThirtyEight
Over his last 24 regulation games at a world championship, Magnus Carlsen has won only one of them. But no matter: his ability to stay afloat during regulation and pounce in fast tie-breaking games that follow have been good enough to win the last two world titles.
Yes, you read that right. It’s over. And Magnus won.
Carlsen, the Norwegian world No. 1, finally won the 2018 World Chess Championship on Wednesday. After 12 straight draws and a match that appeared hopelessly deadlocked, Carlsen cruised through the tiebreaker games, securing the match and his fourth straight championship in dominant fashion. His challenger, Fabiano Caruana of the U.S., was trying to become the first American world champion since Bobby Fischer in 1972. It’s a feat that will have to wait at least two more years.
chess  538 
7 weeks ago by rgl7194
The 2016 Primaries Were Weird. Will Things Get Even Weirder In 2020? | FiveThirtyEight
Now that the midterms are over, the speculation and leaks about who will run for president in 2020 begin in earnest — even though we’re still more than a year out from the Iowa caucus. This is all part of the much-talked-about “invisible primary,” where bids for office aren’t yet public and the primary season hasn’t truly kicked off. For now, many politicians will politely demur when asked whether they’ll run. But that doesn’t mean those conversations aren’t happening behind the scenes now. We have some idea of how this process has worked in the past, but 2016 brought some surprises and revealed underlying tensions between party elites and their voters. Which raises the question: Is everything different now?
politics  gov2.0  Dems  GOP  election  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Human Behavior Might Be The Hardest Part Of Climate Change To Predict | FiveThirtyEight
Whenever we talk about the consequences of climate change, we’re talking about probability. Scientists present a rainbow of possible outcomes for our little experiment in fossil fuel consumption, some more likely than others. We’re used to thinking of that uncertainty as being driven by the physics of the natural world. The more we learn about heat absorption, fluid dynamics and the behavior of clouds, the better our understanding of climate as a system becomes. The more we know, the less uncertainty.
But the release of Volume II of the federal National Climate Assessment late last week got me thinking about uncertainty in a different way. As I read through the report, I saw example after example of uncertainty driven not by physics — but by human society. It’s one thing to say that we can expect a global temperature increase of somewhere between 0.3 and 4.8 degrees Celsius, depending on emissions rates and natural processes we don’t fully understand. It’s another thing entirely to guess what happens when those global temperature changes meet human society. It could turn out to be harder to predict how humans will react to the climate crisis we’ve caused than it is to predict the details of the crisis itself.
climate_change  environment  gov2.0  politics  pollution  report  science  trump  weather  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
What Trump’s Legal Battles Tell Us About Presidential Power | FiveThirtyEight
We’re tracking his biggest cases.
While he loudly calls the media’s attention to issues like immigration and trade agreements, President Trump is quietly testing the limits of his authority through the courts. His views of executive power and separation of powers are, in dozens of different cases, forcing the legal system to answer knotty — and sometimes unprecedented — questions about what the U.S. president is really allowed to do.
It’s not uncommon, of course, for presidents to push at the boundaries of the presidency and for the courts to rein them in. But Trump stands out for both the range and breadth of the constitutional questions that have been raised during his presidency, which isn’t yet 2 years old — from his attorney’s claim that a president can never obstruct justice to his declaring that he has the right to pardon himself. To be clear, neither of those legal questions is being considered by courts at the moment (although if Trump tries to pardon himself, I can promise that will go before a judge in record time), but there are plenty of other consequential cases currently working their way through the judicial system. Disputes about the scope of presidential authority are never easy for judges to resolve, but Trump’s unorthodox statements and actions are making it even more difficult for the courts to determine when, and how, to place limits on the president.
gov2.0  politics  trump  legal  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Don’t Mention Trump On Thanksgiving | FiveThirtyEight
President Trump has proven to be a lightning rod the likes of which the world has never seen. He has consolidated the nation’s political conversation in a way even former President Barack Obama could not. He makes a fight about abortion look like bickering over the NFC East. And now he’s coming for your Thanksgiving table.
First, a little backstory. Several years ago, I was interested in what people argued about on Thanksgiving. As part of a broader SurveyMonkey Audience poll, I asked people which hot-button issues were likely to provoke an argument at their holiday tables.1 Nothing ever came of the question; people mostly bypassed options like health care, gay marriage and immigration to choose “other” as by far the most common response, distantly followed by President Obama. This isn’t all that uncommon: You have to ask a lot of boring questions before you stumble upon one that’s actually interesting.
trump  gov2.0  politics  538  holiday 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Most Players Grab Rebounds. Tyson Chandler Swats Them. | FiveThirtyEight
Gauging the value of center Tyson Chandler has never been the easiest basketball exercise.
The 17-year veteran has made his name in the NBA as a stellar rim protector, earning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011-12. But looking solely at his work on the defensive side of the ball would be selling him a bit short, given how well he has served as a lob specialist and a vertical floor-spacer in pick-and-roll situations.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that Chandler — the newest member of the Lakers after a buyout from the Phoenix Suns — is perhaps the best player in NBA history at securing rebounds … without actually securing them.
basketball  lakers  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Who Could Become Speaker Of The House If Pelosi Doesn’t? | FiveThirtyEight
The drama over who exactly will lead the newly elected Democratic House majority is continuing — and getting more complicated. There’s no guarantee House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will become speaker in January. Her critics are numerous and appear to be intensifying their efforts, with a bloc of them releasing a letter on Monday pledging to oppose her. And this process may go on for a while.
But Pelosi has a big advantage: There is no obvious alternative to her. It is, as the cliche goes, hard to beat something with nothing. Right now, despite all the buzz about Pelosi’s future, no Democrat is actually running against her for speaker. She is almost certain to win the internal House Democratic vote next week to be the party’s nominee for speaker, in part because she might be running unopposed. Her critics’ best bet to defeat her is probably to wait till the formal speaker vote in January, refuse to back Pelosi then, and force her to step aside — and then hope someone else emerges with enough support to get the job.
To explain Democrats’ lack of options, let’s look at some factions within the caucus, none of whom have coalesced around a candidate who could easily supplant Pelosi.
Dems  pelosi  gov2.0  politics  women  sexism  congress  hate  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Why California’s Wildfires Are So Destructive, In 5 Charts | FiveThirtyEight
The Camp Fire in Northern California has already been the most lethal and most destructive in state history, and it continues to burn. The death toll, currently at 63, is expected to grow — more than 600 people are currently reported missing. The fire has burned through 142,000 acres as of Friday morning, just eight days after it began.
It’s not the only major fire in California, either. The Woolsey Fire, near Malibu in the south, has blazed through another 98,000 acres, killing three people. And these fires are just two of the latest in a year when at least 1.6 million acres in the state have burned. There are other fires currently burning, as well.
state  gov2.0  politics  trump  climate_change  disaster  weather  538  infographic 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Trump’s Base Isn’t Enough | FiveThirtyEight
There shouldn’t be much question about whether 2018 was a wave election. Of course it was a wave. You could endlessly debate the wave’s magnitude, depending on how much you focus on the number of votes versus the number of seats, the House versus the Senate versus governorships, and so forth. Personally, I’d rank the 2018 wave a tick behind both 1994, which represented a historic shift after years of Democratic dominance of the House, and 2010, which reflected an especially ferocious shift against then-President Barack Obama after he’d been elected in a landslide two years earlier. But I’d put 2018 a bit ahead of most other modern wave elections, such as 2006 and 1982. Your mileage may vary.

In another important respect, however, the 2018 wave was indisputably unlike any other in recent midterm history: It came with exceptionally high turnout. Turnout is currently estimated at 116 million voters, or 49.4 percent of the voting-eligible population. That’s an astounding number; only 83 million people voted in 2014, by contrast.
538  gov2.0  politics  trump  election 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
No, Democrats Didn’t Win The Senate. But They Did Better Than It Seems. | FiveThirtyEight
The 2018 election has become a tale of divided government: the House broke for Democrats, but the Senate held for Republicans — and what’s more, Republicans were even able to expand their majority in the Senate. The election has also become a tale of blue waves. But don’t those tales contradict one another? Not really. What the “split decision” narrative sometimes misses is just how well Democrats performed in the Senate despite having to defend more seats than Republicans1 — and in territory that was largely more favorable to the GOP.
Much of this is overshadowed because Democrats did lose Senate seats. But if we look at a state’s partisan lean2 and the vote share margin in each Senate race, we see Democrats managed to outperform how their states leaned politically in almost every single race — including in the 10 states with a Democratic incumbent that President Trump won in 2016.
gov2.0  Dems  congress  politics  538  election 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
At Least 123 Women Will Be In The Next Congress. Just 19 Are Republicans. | FiveThirtyEight
Democratic women did really well last Tuesday. And many broke new ground: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won a New York U.S. House seat, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib, who won in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, and Ilhan Omar, of the Minnesota 5th, will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Women also flipped districts blue in competitive races — Navy veteran Elaine Luria won in the Virginia 2nd, and former CIA analyst Elissa Slotkin, who served in the Obama administration, won in the Michigan 8th.
According to ABC News projections and FiveThirtyEight analysis, 113 women U.S. House and Senate candidates — from both parties — are expected to be winners.1 And there are eight unresolved races with at least one woman candidate.2 The number of women winners is certain to grow to 115, because both of the major-party candidates in two of the unresolved races are women. In the other six races, two of the women candidates are favored to win — Republicans Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi’s Senate runoff and Mia Love in Utah’s 4th District — according to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis.
congress  election  gov2.0  women  538  Dems 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Why Did The House Get Bluer And The Senate Get Redder? | FiveThirtyEight
Before the election, we at FiveThirtyEight anticipated a sizable Democratic pickup in the House but a narrow GOP gain in the Senate … and that’s pretty much what happened.1 Currently, Democrats are poised for a net gain of 39 seats in the House, Republicans a net gain of two seats in the Senate.2 But as I pointed out before the election, it’s not unprecedented for the chambers to move in opposite directions (though it is a little unusual).
The 2018 elections marked the fourth midterm since World War II that the president’s party lost ground in the House but gained in the Senate.
What explains this split outcome, especially in such a Democratic-leaning national environment? First, the average competitive seat in the Senate was just a lot redder, and therefore harder for Democrats to pick up. And second, the number of seats each party had to defend differed pretty dramatically.
538  gov2.0  politics  election  congress 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
How Big A Difference Does The House Speaker Really Make? | FiveThirtyEight
The fight over whether Democrats should choose Rep. Nancy Pelosi to be the speaker of the House again is really a fight over what Democrats should want in a speaker. Do they need someone skilled at the inside game — tucking small-but-significant provisions into appropriations bills or convincing other House Democrats to campaign on health care a lot and impeachment almost never? Or do they need a master of the outside game — an articulate, engaging spokesperson for the party who can appeal to the party’s liberal base as well as Obama-Trump voters in the Midwest?
Of course, that’s not what the Pelosi debate on Twitter and in op-ed columns has revolved around; instead, Pelosi’s advocates and critics are going around and around about her age and gender. But that debate is different than the one taking place on Capitol Hill, where this decision will actually be made. There, the Pelosi fight is not really about gender — some of Pelosi’s critics are women, and virtually all of them, I think, would accept a female speaker not named Pelosi. It’s not really about ideology either — some of Pelosi’s critics are pretty liberal, as are some of her supporters; opinion about her also seems to be mixed among more conservative Democrats. It’s also not solely about age — Pelosi’s critics are suggesting that the party needs a new generation of leaders, but some were recently touting 66-year-old Marcia Fudge of Ohio for speaker. Fudge is 12 years younger than Pelosi but hardly represents a generational shift. (Fudge on Tuesday announced that she was backing Pelosi and ending her own brief flirtation with running for speaker.)
Dems  pelosi  gov2.0  politics  women  sexism  congress  hate  538 
8 weeks ago by rgl7194
Democrats Can Help The Mueller Investigation Now. But They Also Might Make Things Worse. | FiveThirtyEight
Robert Mueller’s stock is about to go up on Capitol Hill — or at least, it’ll go up in the newly Democratic-controlled House. After a two-month stretch where Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election barely made headlines and was notably absent from the campaign trail, some Democrats are now vowing to do everything in their power to protect the special counsel as he enters what may be the final phase of his work.
At the same time, Democrats are also promising to begin aggressive investigations of their own. Adam Schiff, the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman, says he plans to reopen the panel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, starting with a list of 70 people, organizations and companies that he and other Democrats believe the GOP failed to examine fully. This is both good and bad news for special counsel Robert Mueller: On the one hand, Democrats’ desire to get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 could help fortify his work, especially after supervision of the Russia investigation was transferred last week to acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, who has been openly critical of the investigation. On the other hand, it could create new headaches for Mueller or even undermine his work.
conspiracy  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  congress  Dems  538 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Suburbs — All Kinds Of Suburbs — Delivered The House To Democrats | FiveThirtyEight
Throughout this election cycle, FiveThirtyEight and others wondered where Democrats could pick up House seats: Would it be in the 13 districts that Mitt Romney carried in 2012 but Hillary Clinton won in 2016? Or would it be in the 21 districts that Barack Obama carried in 2012 but Donald Trump won in 2016? It turns out that both types of districts mattered, and as Nathaniel Rakich noted, Democrats scored big in Romney-Clinton districts (and they may still gain more ground there, as not all races in California have been called).
But arguably what mattered more than a district’s presidential choice in 2012 and 2016 was whether it was suburban. Democrats made huge gains in Romney-Trump seats, too — we’re looking at you, Oklahoma 5th. Seats that leaned Republican but weren’t in rural areas proved to be pretty big pickup opportunities for Democrats and may be part of a larger story on the growing divide between urban and rural America.
538  politics  election  congress  gov2.0 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
It’s Easier Than Ever To Get The Recommended Amount Of Exercise | FiveThirtyEight
If you’re sitting right now, stand up. Walk a few steps or wave your arms in the air. Maybe do a quick dance move. OK, finished? You just did something really good for your health and well-being.
That’s according to the latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The new guidelines update ones published in 2008, and although the amount of exercise recommended isn’t different, the new guidelines incorporate some recent, tantalizing findings about the ways people can get in their exercise, promising to make the standards easier to meet. Whether these changes can overcome the human inclination to lie on the couch remains to be seen.
health  exercise  538  gov2.0 
9 weeks ago by rgl7194
The American Grandmaster Who Could Become World Champion | FiveThirtyEight
If you ask the people who know Fabiano Caruana what Fabiano Caruana is like, they will tell you that Fabiano Caruana is, you know, just a normal guy.
He likes movies. He likes music. He likes to eat. He works out. He goes on dates.
Just a normal guy.
Just a normal guy who is ranked second in the world in chess. A normal guy who was pulled out of school after seventh grade to do nothing but play the ancient and intricate game. A normal guy who is a hairbreadth away from prying the No. 1 position loose from probably the best player ever to play the game. A normal guy who, beginning Friday, will sit down at a table in London with this probably-the-best-ever player, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, in a grueling, weeks-long battle for the world championship of chess. A normal guy who could be the first American to win the title since Bobby Fischer in 1972. Real 99.99999999th percentile stuff.
Just a normal guy.
chess  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Significant Digits For Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018 | FiveThirtyEight
You’re reading an all-election edition of Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.
>218 House seats
We haven’t yet landed on the exact number that history will record, but Democrats last night won a majority in the House of Representatives’s 435 seats. As I write this Wednesday morning, CNN has given the Democrats 222 seats, while ABC News has given them 223. But in any case, it will be more than 218. There are about two dozen seats yet to be called. [ABC News]
gov2.0  politics  election  congress  state  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Election Night Defied A Single Takeaway | FiveThirtyEight
...If anything, the 2018 midterm elections were without a cohesive narrative. There was no overwhelming blue wave that served as a sharp rebuke to President Trump. The Democrats are projected to take control of the House of Representatives by a healthy seat margin, but Trump still found reason to celebrate; the Senate remains under Republican control. Governors mansions in a number of states will change into Democratic hands, but in a number of high-profile contests, the party fell short. A record number of women are headed to Congress, but several high-profile women were voted out of office. There was no single, stunning takeaway to grant us clarity about where the nation is headed.
Instead, the election was an accurate reflection of where the country stands: existentially muddled, politically divided and historically engaged with its politics...
gov2.0  politics  congress  election  voting  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Democrats Had A Big Night In Governors Races, But It Could Have Been Bigger | FiveThirtyEight
The Democrats made substantial gains at the gubernatorial level, as we expected. They won control of the governor’s offices from Republicans in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin. Connecticut is still too close to call, but Republican Bob Stefanowski is narrowly trailing Democrat Ned Lamont, and a Stefanowski comeback there is the GOP’s only remaining shot at picking up a state from a Democrat. The majority of Americans are likely to have a Democratic governor when the results are finalized.
That said, the Democrats did not have the banner gubernatorial night that our forecast suggested was possible. Let me run through the details.
politics  gov2.0  election  Dems  538  state 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
How Republicans Made Gains In The Senate | FiveThirtyEight
On a night filled with mixed results for both parties, partisanship mostly prevailed in the Senate, to the benefit of Republicans. According to ABC News’s projections, they flipped three seats and lost one, with three more races (Montana, Florida, Arizona) not yet called, though Republicans lead in all three. If those three straggler races are confirmed for the GOP, the party’s majority will expand from 51 seats to 54, with a runoff election in Mississippi still to come. This result was was one of the more favorable Republican outcomes in our forecast of how Election Night would go in the Senate.
Depending on how things shake out in the remaining races, it’s possible that 30 of 35 Senate races (86 percent) will have voted for the same party that won the state at the presidential level in 2016.1 Compared to past elections, that rate would be very high for a midterm.
politics  gov2.0  congress  election  538  GOP 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
How Democrats Won The House | FiveThirtyEight
After two years of pent-up anticipation, Democrats have finally done what they have long been favorites to do: win control of the U.S. House of Representatives. As of this writing, our colleagues at ABC have projected 223 seats for Democrats and 201 seats for Republicans. Democrats have turned 29 Republican-held seats blue, while Republicans have flipped one Democrat-held seat, for a net Democratic gain of 28 (so far). Here are all the seats that have changed parties as of 3:43 a.m. on Wednesday...
politics  gov2.0  congress  election  Dems  538 
10 weeks ago by rgl7194
Sure, The Rams Are Good. But Are They Historically Great? | FiveThirtyEight
The Los Angeles Rams’ quest for an unbeaten season barely survived Aaron Rodgers on Sunday in what was oddly tantamount to a road game for the hosts. Now Jared Goff and Co. head into an actual road game against another future Hall of Fame quarterback, Drew Brees.
With a perfect season still a possibility halfway through this NFL campaign, it’s reasonable to wonder where the Rams rank among the best teams in football. The Rams’ record has escaped attention largely because no one is surprised when they win. They dominated the offseason by spending $237 million in guaranteed contracts, while only one other team, the Minnesota Vikings, even topped $200 million.1 As a result, the Rams were the preseason favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. But heightened preseason expectations don’t always translate into wins, particularly for a non-Patriots team: Just ask the 2011 Eagles, whose self-proclaimed “Dream Team” went up in smoke, losing eight of their first 12 games.
football  rams  538 
11 weeks ago by rgl7194
The Dodgers Are One Win Away From Triggering The Super Sports Equinox In LA | FiveThirtyEight
If the World Series goes to a Game 5, the Dodgers, Kings, Clippers, Ducks, Rams and Galaxy will all be playing at home on Sunday.
The city of Los Angeles can’t feel great about the Dodgers’ World Series chances right now, as the team needs to win four of the next five against the Boston Red Sox to seal its first title in 30 years. However, we have good news for you, Los Angeles. The city is only one Dodgers win from making another kind of history: The super sports equinox. If the Dodgers win just one of the next two games at home and force a Game 5, teams representing the city in all four major North American sports will be playing on the same day. And although World Series titles come and go, the super equinox has only happened once before in all of sports history — and LA’s super equinox would come with all its teams at home, which has never happened before.
But before we get to all that, allow us to fill in a little background info. A sports equinox is a day when all four major U.S. sports leagues — NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB1 — play at least one game on the same day. It used to be exceedingly rare: Before 2015, there had only been 14 sports equinoxes ever, since it was difficult to find a Sunday or Monday (when NFL teams would be playing) late enough in the year to catch the start of the NBA season but early enough to overlap the end of the World Series.
sports  LA  dodgers  rams  kings  538  football  baseball  basketball  hockey  soccer 
12 weeks ago by rgl7194
Why Josh Hart May Be LeBron’s Most Valuable Teammate | FiveThirtyEight
Mostly because he’s a smaller version of the Lakers’ superstar.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Los Angeles Lakers have a cerebral, multi-talented player who is strong as an ox and competes like a runaway train. But no: We’re not talking about the NBA’s best player, LeBron James. Josh Hart is something of a makeshift James clone, and he could very quietly end up being the club’s second-most-important player because of the unusual, Swiss Army knife role he plays.
At first blush, that might seem preposterous. After all, the second-year Hart — who is all of 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds — may not even start for this talented team. The former college star who led Villanova to a national title took 6.0 shot attempts per game as a rookie, scoring 7.9 points and taking a definitive backseat to far more heralded Lakers youngsters such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma.
Yet there’s reason to believe that Hart, in his own way, will be just as important in the grand scheme. Hart’s ability to beat the defense before it’s set will be one of the Lakers’ greatest weapons — both when James is quarterbacking things and when he’s on the bench.
basketball  lakers  lebron  538 
october 2018 by rgl7194
Why Manafort’s Flip May Matter More Than 25 Russian Indictments | FiveThirtyEight
For much of the past year, whenever a major new indictment has come down in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, we’ve been showing you a version of this chart.
As Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential coordination with the Trump campaign moved forward, the indictments stacked up with impressive speed. So far, Mueller has charged 32 people in connection with the Russia investigation, far more than other major special-counsel investigations like Whitewater and Iran-Contra yielded. (Among the special investigations on our chart, only Watergate has more.)
There’s a problem, though, with simply comparing the number of indictments in different investigations. That approach assumes that all the indictments are in the same general category. For the Mueller investigation, they aren’t.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
october 2018 by rgl7194
How The Red Sox And Dodgers Made It To The World Series, In One Chart | FiveThirtyEight
It’s been almost seven months since the Major League Baseball season started, and here we are, finally ready to determine a champion. We’ve been tracking — and forecasting — each team’s chances all season long, so we wanted to look back at the paths to the World Series taken by Boston and Los Angeles. Our final predictions give the Red Sox the edge over the Dodgers in the series, 60 percent to 40 percent — but as we know, anything can happen when the players take the field.
baseball  dodgers  world_series  infographic  538 
october 2018 by rgl7194
Todd Gurley Is In The Right System At The Right Time | FiveThirtyEight
Todd Gurley is off to one of the hottest starts in NFL history. After rushing for a league-leading 623 yards and nine touchdowns — plus 247 receiving yards and two more TDs through the air — Gurley has accumulated the fifth-most adjusted yards1 from scrimmage through six games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, joining former Rams greats Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson near the top of the list. The Rams are 6-0 on the young season, and Gurley’s breakneck performance is often cited as a catalyst for the team’s success. He has even been in the early discussion for league MVP.
But is that really warranted? Does the Rams offense truly run through Gurley, or should we be giving head coach Sean McVay more of the credit?
football  rams  gurley  538 
october 2018 by rgl7194
How Kavanaugh Will Change The Supreme Court | FiveThirtyEight
Since July, when President Trump announced his most recent nomination to the Supreme Court, FiveThirtyEight has been analyzing the effects of a potential Justice Kavanaugh — a potential that is now reality. Kavanaugh was confirmed on Saturday by a 50-48 vote in the Senate. Based on what we know about measuring the ideology of justices and judges, the Supreme Court will soon take a hard and quick turn to the right. It’s a new path that is likely to last for years.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, will almost certainly become the new median justice, defining the court’s new ideological center. As measured by Judicial Common Space scores — which use the popular Martin-Quinn method for justices, based solely on their actual votes — the center of the court will be about as conservative as it was when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Ronald Reagan appointee, was the median justice in the 1990s and early 2000s. According to these scores, the court’s center will now cross from mildly liberal to solidly conservative.
SCOTUS  gov2.0  politics  trump  538  conservative 
october 2018 by rgl7194
The CDC Is Publishing Unreliable Data On Gun Injuries. People Are Using It Anyway. | FiveThirtyEight
For journalists, researchers and the general public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention serves as an authoritative source of information about Americans’ health, including estimates of how many people are killed or injured by guns. The agency’s most recent figures include a worrying uptick: Between 2015 and 2016, the number of Americans nonfatally injured by a firearm jumped by 37 percent, rising from about 85,000 to more than 116,000. It was the largest single-year increase recorded in more than 15 years.
But the gun injury estimate is one of several categories of CDC data flagged with an asterisk indicating that, according to the agency’s own standards, it should be treated as “unstable and potentially unreliable.” In fact, the agency’s 2016 estimate of gun injuries is more uncertain than nearly every other type of injury it tracks. Even its estimates of BB gun injuries are more reliable than its calculations for the number of Americans wounded by actual guns.
gov2.0  report  guns  data  politics  538 
october 2018 by rgl7194
Why Humans Are Bad At Spotting Lies | FiveThirtyEight
“Exactly how you’d expect a guilty person to act.” “Moving and credible.” “So coached and so rehearsed.” “Simply tremendous.”
These are all reactions to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a set of responses that put on full display just how differently people can interpret the same set of behaviors, statements and emotions. And that reality lines up well with what experts who study lying and lie detection would expect: Humans aren’t very good at being able to tell — just from watching someone and listening to them talk — whether they are being told truth or fiction.
Instead, research suggests, our interpretations of testimony like Kavanaugh’s, or Christine Blasey Ford’s earlier on Thursday, will be shaped by what we already believe. The Kavanaugh confirmation fight and Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her are taking place in a political context, tapping into partisan identities. But even without those particular biases, humans just aren’t very good at reading people. And that’s why testimony is “no substitute for a good, solid, thorough investigation and finding of the facts,” said Brian Fitch, a psychologist and retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant.
truth  psychology  politics  538 
september 2018 by rgl7194
What’s Still On Mueller’s To-Do List? | FiveThirtyEight
As the summer drew to a close, Labor Day attained almost mythic status for followers of the Mueller investigation. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani repeatedly claimed that the Mueller probe, which is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election, was poised to wrap up by the beginning of September. Others breathlessly predicted that indictments of Roger Stone and even Donald Trump Jr. were imminent.
Instead, none of that happened. And now Mueller-watchers may have to wait even longer to learn what the special counsel investigation has in store. With the midterm elections less than 60 days away, some observers have predicted that Mueller will refrain from taking steps that could affect the outcome — although as former FBI director James Comey can attest, there’s no ironclad rule forbidding Department of Justice officials from taking action, even on the eve of an election.
As we enter this possible quiet period, however, it’s a good time to take stock of what Mueller has accomplished so far, and what questions are left unanswered.
538  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
september 2018 by rgl7194
The Rams And Bears Spent Big On Non-Quarterbacks. Will They Regret It? | FiveThirtyEight
A few years back, my colleague Ben Morris wrote a piece for FiveThirtyEight called “Ndamukong Suh Is Cursed.” The basic premise was that huge contracts for non-quarterbacks in the NFL are usually doomed to failure, because of a couple factors: First, the team that “wins” the bid for a player is often the one who overpaid the most; beyond that, tying up a huge percentage of the team’s salary cap in one player can hamstring a roster even if the individual contract ends up providing fair value. Ben’s example of Suh, whose highly paid tenure with the Dolphins ended in March, wound up being a perfect case study — not only was the defensive tackle much less productive after the deal, but Miami also played worse after signing Suh.
football  rams  AD99  business  538  money 
september 2018 by rgl7194
FiveThirtyEight gives Rams 39 percent chance to make playoffs
Last season, for the first time in more than a decade, the Los Angeles Rams made the playoffs. They did so by winning 11 games and taking home the NFC West title, supplanting the Seahawks atop the division.
It was a campaign that caught everyone off guard, one that almost no one predicted for the Rams. Yet, as good as they were in 2017, the Rams should be even better this season after adding Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks.
football  rams  preview  analytics  538 
september 2018 by rgl7194
Why Democrats Were Willing To Break The Rules On Kavanaugh Day 3 | FiveThirtyEight
There is an ideological light burning inside Brett Kavanaugh, but the last few days of congressional testimony hasn’t told us much about what it looks like — let alone how bright it will burn if he reaches the Supreme Court. Instead, it has been obscured by two distinct, opaque screens. The first screen is made of paper. Hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s career as a government lawyer have either been withheld from the committee, declared “committee confidential” or delivered too late for any meaningful vetting. The second screen is made of silence. Kavanaugh has relied on an unwritten rule that he says compels a nominee to refuse discussing hypotheticals, potential future cases and — especially today — current events. To do so, he says, would corrupt his “judicial independence.”
For the first hour of Thursday’s hearings, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, along with the press, tried to poke holes in that first screen to let the light in.
congress  SCOTUS  gov2.0  politics  racism  538  email 
september 2018 by rgl7194
Is Trump’s Legitimacy At Risk? | FiveThirtyEight
Last Tuesday was not a good day for President Trump. Within minutes his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to charges including a campaign finance violation, and his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on eight counts, including fraud charges. So, not a banner day for his presidency. But was it a day that fundamentally changed it?
I don’t mean to ask whether it changed the trajectory of his presidency. On that, time will tell, etc. etc. Instead, I’m interested in something more core to Trump’s presidency as it currently exists. Has the guilt of Trump’s aides affected his ability to govern?
trump  gov2.0  politics  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
Republicans Are Talking About Impeachment Way More Than Democrats | FiveThirtyEight
“Legal blows fuel impeachment fears” declared Politico in a headline on Tuesday, after news broke that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen had entered a guilty plea and a jury had convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts of various financial crimes. The story featured three Republicans (and no Democrats) speculating about the possibility of Democrats impeaching President Trump if they win control of the House in November. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested that impeachment is, “the only message they seem to have going into the midterms,” referring to congressional Democrats. Even Trump himself appears to have impeachment on the mind.
Here’s the thing: If the Democrats are planning to impeach Trump if they win control of the House, they are doing a really great job of hiding it. Congressional Democrats aren’t talking about impeachment.
politics  gov2.0  trump  538  impeach 
august 2018 by rgl7194
How FiveThirtyEight’s House Model Works | FiveThirtyEight
We’ve been publishing election models for more than 10 years now, and FiveThirtyEight’s 2018 House model is probably the most work we’ve ever put into one of them. That’s mostly because it just uses a lot of data. We collected data for all 435 congressional districts in every House race since 1998, and we’ve left few stones unturned, researching everything from how changes in district boundary lines could affect incumbents in Pennsylvania to how ranked-choice voting could change outcomes in Maine.
Not all of that detail is apparent upon launch. You can see the topline national numbers, as well as a forecast of the outcome in each district. But we’ll be adding a lot more features within the next few weeks, including detailed pages for each district. You may want to clip and save this methodology guide for then. In the meantime, here’s a fairly detailed glimpse at how the model works.
gov2.0  politics  congress  statistics  538  election 
august 2018 by rgl7194
The 5 Big Takeaways From Our House Forecast | FiveThirtyEight
Democrats are favored to gain control of the House of Representatives in this year’s midterm elections, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast model. But — a very FiveThirtyEight-ish sentence follows — the range of possible outcomes is wide and Democrats’ prospects are far from certain. Relatively small shifts could allow Republicans to keep control of the House, or could turn a blue wave into a tsunami.
What’s behind all of this? Our methodology post goes into a lot more detail about how our forecasts are calculated. But that explanation is rather abstract, so in this article, I’m going to focus on how these factors are playing out given what we know about the political environment this year.
gov2.0  election  congress  politics  Dems  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
What We Know About Voter ID Laws | FiveThirtyEight
At a rally last month, President Trump endorsed voter ID laws, saying this to the audience: “Only American citizens should vote in American elections. Which is why the time has come for voter ID, like everything else. You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card.”
Many jumped on the head-scratching line about groceries, but the more significant piece of the president’s speech may have been his unfounded implication that many noncitizens are voting. Trump’s comment is likely to add fuel to the long-running debate among citizens, elected officials, courts and researchers about the motivations behind and impact of voter ID laws. With some credible new evidence on these questions from political science — and the midterms fast approaching — it’s a good time to take stock of what we do and don’t know.
election  gov2.0  politics  ID  538  research 
august 2018 by rgl7194
John McCain Was A Maverick — And A Politician | FiveThirtyEight
John McCain, the senator from Arizona, passed away from brain cancer on Saturday at the age of 81. He weathered the sharp attacks from opponents and voters that all politicians do, but his burnish of authenticity, increasingly rare in public figures, spoke to our American ideal of independence, and his early sacrifice as a prisoner of war pulled at our patriotism. McCain was who we wanted our politicians to be, even if he didn’t always live up to our own idea of who he was.
The “maverick” label he will likely be best-remembered for was a mixture of personality, PR and the truth.
congress  gov2.0  politics  RIP  538  mccain  cancer 
august 2018 by rgl7194
Hacking The Electric Grid Is Damned Hard | FiveThirtyEight
The nightmare is easy enough to imagine. Nefarious baddies sit in a dark room, illuminated by the green glow of a computer screen. Meanwhile, technicians watch in horror from somewhere in the Midwest as they lose control of their electrical systems. And, suddenly, hundreds of thousands, even millions of Americans are plunged into darkness.
That scene was evoked in recent weeks as federal security experts at the Department of Homeland Security warned that state-sponsored hackers have targeted more than American elections — they’re after the electric grid, too. They’ve gotten “to the point where they could have thrown switches,” a DHS official told The Wall Street Journal. Both DHS and the FBI have linked these attacks to Russia — which was already pinned as the culprit in two attacks that shut down power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine two Decembers in a row, in 2015 and 2016. It’s all very urgent — a high-risk crisis that must be solved immediately.
security  hack  electric  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
Is Chris Collins Toast? | FiveThirtyEight
How much scandals hurt candidates running for re-election
In the era of President Trump, it’s become fashionable to presume that politicians can do whatever they like and get away with it. But if recent elections to Congress are any guide, scandals do have large and measurable effects. So when U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, the Republican from New York’s 27th Congressional District, was arrested on insider trading charges on Wednesday morning, it took a seat that had looked to be fairly safe for Republicans and put it into the competitive category.
I’m going to be fairly circumspect in this article because I’m knee-deep in finalizing our House model, and I don’t want to scoop our own forecast. But one of the things we evaluated in designing that model is the electoral effects of scandals, based on the data set of scandals put together by my colleague Nathaniel Rakich.1
politics  crime  new_york  congress  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
What You Found In 3 Million Russian Troll Tweets | FiveThirtyEight
Last week, FiveThirtyEight published nearly 3 million tweets sent by handles affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory.” That group was a defendant in one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments, which accused the IRA of interfering with American electoral and political processes.
We shared the data with the public in concert with the researchers who first assembled it: Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren, both of Clemson University. Their hope, and ours, was that other researchers, as well as our broader readership, would explore the tweet data, share their findings and improve the data set, all with a goal of understanding Russian interference in American politics.
“So far it’s only had two brains looking at it,” Linvill said of the data last week. “More brains might find God-knows-what.”
538  election  gov2.0  politics  russia  troll  trump  twitter 
august 2018 by rgl7194
The Abortion Debate Isn’t As Partisan As Politicians Make It Seem | FiveThirtyEight
The debate over Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, is likely to be dominated by discussion about abortion as the court, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, would have five solidly conservative justices, which may mean it’s willing to strike down Roe v. Wade. And that discussion will likely be split by party: Almost all the Democrats you see on cable news and on the floor of the Senate will strongly defend abortion rights, while anti-abortion activists will be among Kavanaugh’s most prominent advocates, even if they don’t outright say they think he will vote to strike down Roe.
But the way the abortion debate plays out in national politics, particularly around judicial nominations, does not reflect how the broader public views this issue. The issue is not a 50/50 Democrat/Republican split, as the plurality of Americans consistently take the “pro-choice” position over the “pro-life” one. And the public, unlike political elites, is not completely divided along party lines on this issue. There is a large bloc of Republicans who support abortion rights. There is a smaller, but still sizable, group of Democrats who oppose abortion rights.
politics  abortion  debate  538  gov2.0 
august 2018 by rgl7194
We’re Divided On Patriotism Too | FiveThirtyEight
We at FiveThirtyEight hope you had a very patriotic Fourth of July — whatever that means to you. A YouGov poll, released this week, checked in on Americans’ feelings on patriotism and revealed some stark differences along — what else? — partisan lines.
Overall, the survey found that 76 percent of Americans consider themselves “very” or “somewhat” patriotic. But between Republicans and Democrats, there were pretty big differences: A whopping 97 percent of Republicans placed themselves in the “very” or “somewhat” categories, compared with 71 percent of Democrats. That’s a gap of 26 percentage points. Even more starkly, 72 percent of Republicans consider themselves to be “very” patriotic (the highest level of patriotism), compared with 29 percent of Democrats — a 43-point gap.
gov2.0  politics  survey  538  patriots 
august 2018 by rgl7194
Americans Know Where They Stand On The Mueller Investigation | FiveThirtyEight
Friday’s news that the Justice Department had indicted 12 Russian agents in connection with interference in the 2016 U.S. elections was a major development in the fast-moving Robert Mueller investigation. But that doesn’t mean it will change anyone’s mind in the long run.
Since Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017, his investigation has brought charges against 35 people or businesses, including former Trump confidants Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn in late 2017. But while American opinion about Russian involvement in the 2016 election has shifted over that time, the shift hasn’t always been lasting.
crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
What Climate Change Looks Like In 2018 | FiveThirtyEight
It’s only July, but it has already been a long, hot spring and summer. The contiguous U.S. endured the warmest May ever recorded, and in June, the average temperature was 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.0 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average. Iowa, New Mexico and Texas set record highs for their minimum temperatures in June, and as of July 3, nearly 30 percent of the Lower 48 was experiencing drought conditions. And it’s not just the U.S. During the first five months of 2018, nearly every continent experienced record warm temperatures, and May 2018 marked the 401st consecutive month in which temperatures exceeded the 20th century average.
climate_change  politics  economics  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
How The Putin-Trump Press Conference Rates On Our Trump Opposition Scale | FiveThirtyEight
When President Trump backtracked (slightly) from controversial remarks he made on Monday in which he questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, I wasn’t surprised. It was another demonstration that what usually forces Trump to back down from a confrontation or concede defeat is not just the intensity of opposition (particularly if it’s coming only from congressional Democrats), but the breadth of that opposition: Trump usually feels compelled to respond in some way when powerful blocs in American politics combine to resist him.
In the 24 hours after Trump’s comments in Helsinki, Democrats on Capitol Hill were of course furious about them. But so were some Republicans, including those who typically criticize Trump and even a few Trump allies. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, issued a statement affirming his confidence in the intelligence community’s findings that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election; issuing the statement was an aggressive step, since Coats is a Trump political appointee. And the media was unusually unrestrained in attacking Trump, a tenor perhaps best illustrated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper declaring on air that Trump’s behavior was “disgraceful,” and Fox News’ Abby Huntsman writing on Twitter that “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus.”
politics  trump  gov2.0  congress  news  legal  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
GOP Criticism Of Trump Is All Talk — But It Still Matters | FiveThirtyEight
Critics of President Trump want Republicans to do more. The argument goes something like this: Some Republicans like Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona have cast Trump as historically dangerous, leading a “daily disassembling of our democratic institutions,” in Flake’s words. Trump critics argue that, if this is their view, this moment in history compels them to do everything possible to limit Trump — to oppose Trump more than just rhetorically. With McCain suffering from brain cancer and not on Capitol Hill, the Senate is basically divided between 50 members who vote with the GOP and 49 who vote with the Democrats. Flake or any other Republican senator, their critics argue, could single-handedly grind Trump’s entire agenda to a halt. They could prevent a vote on Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, or force a vote on legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller.
Instead, the few Republicans in the Senate willing to criticize Trump1 have mostly done only that, spurring some eye-rolling exasperation from people who want action, not just words. But we think this vein of criticism of Trump-skeptical Republicans is, well, kind of wrong. It ignores the power of words to serve as a reminder that Trump isn’t an entirely normal Republican, and that he doesn’t have complete Republican support — at least, not all the time. It’s true that Flake and other Trump-skeptical Republicans could do much, much more. But that doesn’t mean what they’re doing now is meaningless.
gov2.0  politics  congress  trump  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
What The Rise Of Kamala Harris Tells Us About The Democratic Party | FiveThirtyEight
In the days after Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the two people who seemed like the Democratic Party’s most obvious 2020 candidates, then-Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, hinted that Clinton had gone too far in talking about issues of identity. “It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman; vote for me,’” Sanders said. Other liberals lamented that the party had lost white voters in such states as Ohio and Iowa who had supported Barack Obama, and they said Democrats needed to dial back the identity talk to win them back.
But that view never took hold among party activists. Liberal-leaning women were emboldened to talk about gender more, not less, after the 2016 election. We’ve had women’s marches and women running for office in greater numbers than ever — all while emphasizing their gender. President Trump’s moves kept identity issues at the forefront, too, and gave Democrats an opportunity both to defend groups they view as disadvantaged and to attack the policies of a president they hate.
politics  gov2.0  Dems  congress  immigration  538  women 
august 2018 by rgl7194
How Catholic Bishops Are Shaping Health Care In Rural America | FiveThirtyEight
lmost as soon as President Trump took office, he began rolling back health care rules that had angered religious groups for much of the last decade. First, Trump signed an executive order declaring that his administration would protect religious freedom. Then, his administration ruled that health insurance plans offered by large employers don’t have to cover contraception for employees, an about-face from a contentious Obama policy. The Department of Health and Human Services created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, signaling a new focus for the agency. A proposed rule could require all 5,500 hospitals in the U.S. to post notices informing individuals and entities that they are protected from religious discrimination.
The changes are all designed to ensure that employers, health care institutions and providers don’t have to participate in health care practices they object to for ethical or moral reasons. But even decades before the Trump administration moved to roll back Obamacare policies, some religious hospitals — in particular, Catholic hospitals — already had the green light from the government to deny certain treatment options to their patients. These hospitals’ right to refuse care is generally unquestioned, creating a dilemma for the people who walk in the door: What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?
538  church  health  insurance  medical  religion 
august 2018 by rgl7194
Russians Are Targeting Private Election Companies, Too — And States Aren’t Doing Much About It | FiveThirtyEight
The American election system is a textbook example of federalism at work. States administer elections, and the federal government doesn’t have much say in how they do it. While this decentralized system has its benefits, it also means that there’s no across-the-board standard for election system cybersecurity practices. This lack of standardization has become all the more apparent over the past two years: Hackers probed 21 state systems during the lead-up to the 2016 election and gained access to one. But the federal government and states don’t appear to have made great strides to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. To do so, they’d need to deal with not only their own cybersecurity deficits but also those of the private companies that help states administer elections.
Voting machine manufacturers and the makers of election software and electronic poll books (which are lists of eligible voters) are crucially intertwined with state election systems. All states, to some extent or another, rely on these private companies for election products. But despite the central role these companies play, state regulations of them are relatively lax. That’s a problem, especially at a time when these companies are, along with state governments, targets of foreign agents of chaos.
election  gov2.0  politics  state  hack  russia  security  privacy  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
Why We’re Sharing 3 Million Russian Troll Tweets | FiveThirtyEight
When historians try to appraise Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, which historical artifacts will they use? Then-candidate Donald Trump’s speech imploring Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails, perhaps. The soccer ball Vladimir Putin gave President Trump at their summit in Helsinki probably merits inclusion. And then there are the tweets — millions of them.
Earlier this year, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Justice Department charged 13 Russian nationals with interfering in American electoral and political processes. The defendants worked for a well-funded “troll factory” called the Internet Research Agency, which had 400 employees, according to one Russian news report. From a bland office building in St. Petersburg, the agency ran a sophisticated and coordinated campaign to sow disinformation and discord into American politics via social media. This often involved Trump’s favorite medium: Twitter.
politics  russia  twitter  troll  gov2.0  trump  election  538 
august 2018 by rgl7194
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