25

Today is October 12th, 2018, 25 days before the midterm election. It’s a beautiful, Southern Fall day- sunny and in the 70’s during the day, down into the 50’s and 60’s at night. Beautiful weather isn’t a rule though. Yesterday Hurricane Matthew rolled through Charlotte yesterday and knocked out power, dropped buckets of rain, and generally left debris everywhere. It was not really scary, but it definitely made me a bit anxious- what if a tree falls on my new car?

Fortunately, the storm came and went, and my car is in one piece. Small victories.

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Data runs the world. “Moneyball” has taken over baseball, despite the fact that Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s have not played a World Series game during his tenure. The value of moving runners and bunting has been replaced by launch angles, exit velocities, and WAR. Advanced metrics, and formerly obscure stats, now tell us who has the most value in baseball.

Politics, and particularly the campaigns, are going the same way. Data is driving everything from GOTV targets to what precincts get walked each day. An algorithm in Brooklyn picked where Hillary Clinton scheduled visits. The Russian troll farms picked targets and bought Facebook ads based on data they got by hacking (and stealing from) the DNC. Big data runs everything now, and to be fair, it does give us a way better view of where to go and what to do in order to get votes. Data definitely belongs at the table.

Political campaigns cannot run on an algorithm though, especially coalition driven, Democratic campaigns. There is a certain level of human driven, political savvy, common sense decision making that needs to be made on a well run campaign. Much as “moneyball” has failed in baseball, algorithm driven politics produced Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Donald Trump. An algorithm said visit Philadelphia a 23rd time, instead of visiting Bethlehem or Wilkes-Barre a first. An algorithm said that it was more important to do the extra visits in Miami and Chapel Hill, while not going out to Elizabeth City or some of the exurbs of Tampa. Published reports say that Bill Clinton was laughed at and brushed off as old-fashioned inside the campaign for saying the campaign needed to spend some time in Pennsylvania’s smaller cities, or in rural, Eastern North Carolina. I’d say the record says Bill was right.

Inside campaigns, data has dramatically changed how field operations run. Organizers are now there to produce the highest numbers possible, more so than to community organize. Regional field directors are more so managers for the organizers, and less so there to deal with regional political issues. GOTV Directors are largely logistical captains, and less involved as far as putting together or managing the operation. Basically, big data is increasingly driving the bus, and human capital is less crucial.

I’m not sure if that’s got a lot of positive value.

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With the NLCS and ALCS starting, I figured I’d make some predictions.

I’ve got the Astros over the Red Sox in six. Both teams will steam roll the NL Champion, but the Astros are looking to me like a next level, dynasty team.

I’m struggling with the NL. While the Dodgers don’t impress me, my head says they win. My gut says the Brewers feel like the team of destiny to me though. I’ll go Brewers in seven, stocking with instinct.

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My Eagles won big last night, and they needed it. Write this down- they will get it together and win the division in the end. They’re next level.

Saquon Barkley scored my fantasy team over 30 points last night. Saquon didn’t beat my Eagles though. I’m really happy with that outcome. Let’s see that for a while.

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Today’s candidate of the day is my Governor, Tom Wolf. Governor Wolf was elected four years ago, against the worst Governor human-being in the Commonwealth’s history, Tom Corbett. That would be the same former Governor who cut education funding, taxed natural gas producers at a lower rate than Texas or Alaska, and completely botched the Sandusky/Penn State scandal every which way imaginable.

The problem Governor Wolf has faced though is that Corbett’s 2010 legislature has remained in place for the last four years, making life difficult for the Governor. Even so, he’s managed to restore funding to education, better fund our human services, and protect our natural resources. He’s signed legislation to expand expungement for reformed offenders and protected women’s health care services. He’s done this in spite of the Republican legislature. He’s done a good job.

One of the big road blocks in Harrisburg, one of the least productive members of the State Senate, up to his resignation earlier this Summer, was Scott Wagner. That would be Scott Wagner who said today that he will “stomp all over” Governor Wolf’s “face, with golf spikes.” You can’t make this up. Does this guy seem like he has the temperament to lead, to you?

Governor Wolf needs your help. Donate to him here. Volunteer with the PA Dems coordinated campaign here.

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