Straw Puppy’s POTUS Polls: The Aftermath 2

Those drapes really bring the room together.

Well it has been two weeks since the election and while we know who won, a section of the US STILL hasn’t come to terms with it.

The Keystone Cop Coup is making little progress in court after multiple legal challenges being effectively laughed out of court. As with so much of the Trump era, the farcical aspect is paired with real damage to the USA with delays to the transition of power and deep resentment among the right.

We can sort the dodgy claims into a number of groups:

  • Election night oddities: graphs or vote totals that went up or down in weird ways. These are largely ‘real’ in the sense of being documented things that happened but not inherently unusual with live data (typos etc). There’s a selection bias here which we’ll talk more about later but also if one of these events happened and Biden’s vote went up and was then corrected down, that is taken as evidence by the Keystone-Coupers that lots of other times Biden’s vote went up incorrectly and wasn’t corrected. Conversely if the opposite happened then that is taken as evidence of ‘corrections’ suspiciously favouring Biden. Heads it’s fraud for Biden and tails it’s fraud against Trump.
  • The timing of postal ballot counting. This forms the bulk of the disbelief even though it was widely anticipated that many votes for Biden would be counted later in the process due to many states counting postal ballots after counting in-person on the day ballots. That Trump appeared to be winning and then wasn’t was just very upsetting (understandable I guess) but it shouldn’t have been surprising.
  • Tall stories. Numerous claims have been breathlessly reported of mundane happenings. They often involve vans mysteriously arriving at polling booths and the witness didn’t know what the van was and so maybe it was a van of fake ballots rather than just a van…The most infamous of these is a video from serial fraudsters Project Veritas showing a postal worker making claims of voting irregularities…claims which the worker then retracted
  • Down ballot blanks. Biden did much better than down ballot Democrats. You would think that is actually counter-evidence to claims of fraud by the Democratic Party but because it’s unusual it gets thrown on the pile. The reality is that Biden genuinely isn’t such a great candidate but there was a massive anti-Trump vote. Again, not a surprise not a mystery.
  • “Statistical” non-oddities. I’ve been referred to so many right wing pieces claiming statistical evidence of electoral fraud that AREN’T Benford’s Law claims (which I’ll get to). In each case there are statistics (the post has numbers in them) but no statistical argument. They all follow a template of ‘look at these numbers’ [some details of voting numbers] and ways in which they are different from past elections and an expression of disbelief that Biden would get these votes. That Trump is uniquely disliked by the people who dislike him is never considered even though the right have been moaning about “Orangeman Bad” for ever so long.
  • Name searches. Apparently we are dealing with people who believe firstname-surname combinations are unique identifiers. By searching for the names of dead people or names of people who live in other states or maiden names of married women who changed their surname, numerous examples of people with the SAME NAMES have been found to have voted! Gasp! It’s almost like multiple people have the same names! Utter bunk.
  • Benford’s Law. This really seems to be dying off in popularity after hosts of debunkings. Watching it in real time propogate out from the far, far right and into the main Republican discourse was interesting in a horrific way. It’s bunk though.
  • The big meta argument. Now this is the current favourite and it works by combining the effect of all of the above. As I haven’t mentioned any Sad Puppies yet, I’ll invoke blog tradition and let Dave Freer introduce it:

“For there to be no red flags two conditions need to exist: 1) approximately the same number of reported (correct or not) issues favoring each side.”

Sure, sure, goes the argument, maybe that postal worker was lying and maybe that graph was a glitch but look at all of these things and look how they all favour Biden, that’s just too big a coincidence! Sometimes they even work out probabilities!

Yeah but nah.

There are five elements as to why this is utter bunk. The broad answer is that this isn’t random but let me count the ways:

  1. Biden’s mail in ballot advantage was a known thing in advance. The Biden campaign overtly encouraged people to vote that way and the Trump campaign overtly discouraged people from voting that way. There is zero mystery there and it accounts for much of the real differences in profile between Biden votes and Trump votes.
  2. Demographic differences between Biden and Trump votes mean that yes, Biden often won city precincts by large numbers and those numbers were often much larger because lots of people really, really hate Trump.
  3. Selection bias. “All’ of these “examples” aren’t a random selection of election weirdness. They are specifically the examples chosen by people who wanted Trump to win and/or who assume Democratic Party fraud. We saw this specifically with the Benford’s law claims in which there no examples of Trump votes not following Benford’s law because the people who had drawn the graphs had only picked examples where Biden’s didn’t and Trump’s did (sort of – probably these examples are Trump’s following a normalish distribution with a mean whose first digit was 1).
  4. Selective interpretation aka: heads it’s fraud for Biden and tails it’s fraud against Trump. For example the dubious name search evidence (see above) even if taken on face value does not demonstrate who the duplicate person voted for. However, any evidence of dodigness, no matter how unsubstantiated and lacking in details, is always taken as evidence of fraud by Democrats, despite the reality of ACTUAL genuine, corroborated examples of fraud in actual reality, while rare overall, is often conducted by Republicans.
  5. Outright lying…or, if we are being charitable, a disdain for truth telling that is morally the same as lying.

It is dispiriting but not surprising to watch people put so much effort into fooling themselves so as to support malicious beliefs about others. One election was never going to cure this degree of self-deceit. We should hardly be surprised that people who have been actively fooling themselves about a global pandemic and a decades long global warming crisis can fool themselves about an election, nor that they would be so easily influenced by people further to their right who lie about the holocaust or (as we’ve seen) about the shape of the Earth.

We can watch the growth of conspiracy ideation in real time here. How do people get so sucked in? Take our old pal Larry Corriea. He has some strange idea but he’s not a flat Earther or a Qanon-nut. His first comments about the election were framed in terms of just asking questions and citing “red lags” rather than bold assertions of fraud but as days progressed his assertions grew stronger even though the evidence got thinner. What makes this a ratchet of increasingly conspiratorial thinking is two-fold 1. more concrete evidence does not eventuate and 2. he stakes his personal reputation on his claims. Then what happens? Court cases flop, senior Republicans don’t back the claims of fraud, Fox News acts like Biden won. All of these run counter to the claim to his view of reality:

“I am more offended by how ham fisted, clumsy, and audacious the fraud to elect him is than the idea of Joe Biden being president.”

If the fraud is not just audacious but also clumsy and ham fisted then how come everybody in positions of power at the GoP aren’t doing something? How come Trump’s legal team aren’t making more legal process? How come nobody has found any substantial concrete examples (aside from examples of Republicans misbehaving). The are two choices: reconsider your original claims (maybe there was still fraud but maybe it was more subtle and less provable) or start claiming that all these other people from senior Republicans to right wing news outlets are in on the fraud as well. However, the first means conceding that maybe his ability to discern how the extent of the fraud was not as good as he claimed and that is something that a fragile ego can’t cope with. It’s not even a matter of maybe thinking there wasn’t fraud but even the idea that maybe there was fraud but that it was subtle or clever is too much a personal affront. The only direction is down the conspiracy spiral which inevitably reaches a point where a nameless ‘them’ are calling the shots and nothing, not even the curvature of the Earth, can be trusted.

50 thoughts on “Straw Puppy’s POTUS Polls: The Aftermath 2

    1. Probably because Brian Niemeier is being suspiciously quiet and instead posting about benign topics like mechas and his favourite 1980s movies. Though he did call Joe Biden a baby sacrificer at one point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Declan Finn, too. His last statement of note was back in September:

        ‘You may have noticed that my sentiments are one part “fed up with stupidity” and a BS tolerance level that is only a few steps short of honey badger. After Italy, I was already on “Why, yes, I do want people to die, thank you,” and in May, I was #NoLivesMatter.’

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Doris: Well, isn’t THAT special, Declan.

        Though someone who willingly goes to a pandemic area and then breaks federal law obviously doesn’t care about anyone but himself.

        What a petulant little sociopath. Kind of the complete opposite of that nice rabbi Yeshua ben Yoseph a couple thousand years ago. That dude had some righteous things to say about how to treat other people. Declan should try putting those ideas into practice.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh god I’m involved in an argument on a language-learning forum about how the latest Pokemon games – of all things! – are Satanic at the moment. I *knew* it felt weirdly familiar.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. It’s followed the pretty normal course of in particular white supremacy arguing. They start off soft and trying to sound reasonable: we’re just asking questions, there are some things that are concerning, Trump has a right to pursue legal challenges, just let it play out so we know for sure things were fair. Oh yeah, and donate to Trump’s legal fund which actually goes to paying some of the campaign debts he can’t just welch on and into his pocket and the pockets of other Republicans. Even though the vote margins in multiple states shows there’s no chance at all of the election results being over-turned and even though trying to overturn them would overturn down ticket Republican wins, they always go with drawing out the chaos and milking the people for as long as possible. They try to recruit folks to their side and portray the Democrats as unreasonable.

    When the incompetent legal challenges get thrown out even faster than they were expecting so it’s harder to push the “reasonable” questions narrative, and Republican officials start abandoning ship, they switch to the victim outrage narrative — a vast conspiracy across multiple states including Republican officials, no way tens of millions sought to oust Trump, the media always lies to us, etc. The Democrats are now cast as illegitimate and threatening.

    They start slow, then they ramp up into straight conspiracy claims when the slow just asking questions ones get debunked. It’s a recruitment radicalization pattern. Whatever happens with Trump, they’re using his cons to recruit more white people into the far right wing — that what they are owed, what they innately deserve, is being stolen from them by threatening Outsiders.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “For there to be no red flags two conditions need to exist: 1) approximately the same number of reported (correct or not) issues favoring each side.”

    This has got to be the dumbest fucking take on things that I’ve heard. I mean, I’d have to do an audit but it’s definitely top three at the least. See, the fact that there’d be more reports of issues concerning votes for Biden was not exactly a giant secret for anyone paying attention to the buildup to the election. Trump had been calling mail-in votes illegitimate for months now, for crissakes. So of fucking course the reported issues would “favor” Trump, his sycophants were ready and eager to report all sorts of fake-ass irregularities. I mean, I have little respect for Larry’s intelligence as it is, but this is low even for him.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Okay, then I’d like to issue a correction. Larry is just as dumb as he usually is. Dave Freer is a mendacious idiot of the highest degree.


  3. I’ve seen a number of claims that people born in the 1890s or early 1900s voted, even though they died decades. It never seemed to occur to anybody that the people who voted were people born in the 1990s or early 2000s who just happened to have the same name as someone born 100 years prior.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s also a non-zero (if very tiny) chance they might be living at the same address, if both the name and the property had been passed down from the ancestor.


  4. What the fuck is Dave Freer doing even commenting on this? Doesn’t he live on a remote island near Tasmania or something? One would think he’d have more important things to attend to, like clubbing baby seals, mocking aboriginal traditions or celebrating the Port Macarthur massacre. Can’t he leave the rest of us alone?

    I mean, honestly, here in the States we’ve already got Hoyt, Correia and Wright to hector us endlessly about bullshit non-existent fraud claims, we don’t need Freer as well. Just go away, dude.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I’ve seen three major reactions from the Far Right–those who are stuck firmly on Denial, those who are stuck firmly on Anger, and those who are on an ever-quickening cycle of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and the right back to Denial as they decide their new Tiger-Repelling Rock will do the trick.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It frequently doesn’t look like it because they aren’t achieving anything even close to a healthy progression here, the equivalent of the guy with terminal cancer who insists the crystals worked and now he’s cured, and if the doctors say otherwise, they’re filthy liars.


  6. I have been reading Hoyt´s blog including the comments. It is rather disturbing.They are often talking about armed uprising, how ”the left” should all be killed, how difficult it is to get ammunition, how everybody should lay in provisions for the coming catastrophe, etcetera etcetera. Do you think they really mean to do this or is it just posturing? I do not live in the US so I guess it won’t concern me directly but the thought of the US having a civil war is frightening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My guess would be that none of those commenters really mean to start a civil war – but:
      – There are probably several who are somewhat serious when they talk about preparing for one, in the sense that they have bough extra stockpiles of ammunition.
      – When they egg each other on in this way there’s a non-zero chance that some of them will take the suggestions more seriously than they were meant, and start shooting. Like they guy who assaulted a pizza restaurant because of a conspiracy theory.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. The overwhelming majority of Hoyt’s commenters are venting in public and will go no further.

      But it only takes a single individual to shoot up a church.

      Liked by 3 people

    3. Among Torgersen’s crowd it’s a funny “joke” to advocate throwing progressives out of helicopters.

      That sort of thing is why it’s interesting (and by interesting I mean not surprising at all) when the Right clutches their pearls at how violent the Left is.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Right now on Torgersen’s FB page his friends are back to claiming the Left is going to send them all to gulags. Yes, again.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Considering Torgersen fully expected to be thrown into a gulag during the Sad Puppies 3 uproar in 2015, I wonder why he’s still worried, even though nothing has happened to him except that he’ll now always be “that Nutty Nuggets guy”.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I’m beginning to wonder if Brad doesn’t really secretly deep down WANT to be sent to a gulag.

        Too bad the US doesn’t have gulags and Democrats are really against adding to the prison population and Brad’s not important enough to be noticed by anyone in power of any party.

        Poor Mr. Nutty Nuggets, no one wants to send him to a gulag! Boo-hoo! Senpai has not noticed him!

        Liked by 4 people

      4. Yes, their cognitive dissonance is absolutely primo. The Left is simultaneously wussy gun-hating soyboys and yet ready to kill at a moment’s notice. The Right is completely peaceful except they think it’s “fun” to joke about killing people, and they stockpile guns and ammo at the drop of a hat.

        Liked by 4 people

  7. I see just a little of this among my far-left friends on Facebook, who’re extremely resistant to learning that we lost winnable House and Senate races because of “woke socialism” and “defund the police.” They so powerfully want to believe that their ideas are secretly shared by a big majority of Americans that they go through contortions to try to explain away the results.

    What’s sad is that we lost a golden opportunity to gain more control over redistricting. Now the Republicans will have the same control over the 2020 redistricting as they did in 2010, which means they’ll continue to enjoy a strong gerrymandered advantage.

    I expect we’ll see a much stronger pushback against the woke socialists over the next two years. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Although I’m sure Colbert will donate a copy of “Whose Boat Is This Boat?” which is actually things that he said himself and has few enough words he can read it.


  8. The internets tell me there are 48000 people named John Smith in the US.

    As regards my wallet name, just today I was wrongly tagged in a friend’s FB post referring to another person of the same name. And I’ve voted under two different names, because I got married and Mr. LT’s last name is easier to spell and pronounce. And in two different counties in the first state, because I moved to a neighboring one when we married. And in two different states, because he got a new job. And at five different addresses total. Do the math wrongly and I’m legion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s actually one of the ways they were doing voter suppression, though it’s a bit more random than many other tactics. Part of the Jim Crow poll tax voter ID suppression regulations in Repub states forced women trying to register to vote to provide their original marriage certificate to prove their married name was in fact their legal name. A passport or social security card under the name was not sufficient. So they deployed that in Democratic-leaning areas in states Repubs controlled and a number of women who couldn’t get/afford/etc. to have their marriage certificate from wherever they got married couldn’t then register to vote. Because imaginary voter fraud, otherwise known as Repubs cheat to win elections.


  9. “The reality is that Biden genuinely isn’t such a great candidate but there was a massive anti-Trump vote”

    In the specific context that you wrote this– explaining why it’s not suspicious that down-ballot Democrats didn’t do so well– this is a bit of a non-sequitur. That is, regardless of what you think of Biden (from my POV it’s accurate to say that he is not a candidate for the ages and yet also possibly the second-best Presidential nominee in my adult life), replacing him with Truly Awesome Candidate would be unlikely to affect how well the down-ballot candidates did in a year like this. What you’re seeing is likely a combination of 1. vaguely D-leaning people who rarely vote and don’t pay attention to Congressional races, but were motivated to vote for President this time, and 2. R-leaning people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump again, but would never vote a straight D ticket even if Jesus Himself were on it, and/or they’re still a little worried that Biden might be a socialist menace after all so they want to keep their R legislators for “balance”… unfortunately there really are people who make their decisions that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There was actually way less split ticket balloting in the 2020 election — a sign of our increasing polarization. Most people voted a straight Democrat or Republican ticket including for president. That’s one of the reasons Trump did as well as he did. But in areas where Democrats and Republicans are hotly contesting each other for control of the state — like Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, etc., then you see a bit more split balloting as Trump’s eagerness to sick the police through the suburbs at black protestors and his disastrous covid response did scare off some Republican voters who still wanted Republicans on the lower positions. And Independents don’t vote straight party usually as they don’t belong to one. Then there’s a slice of well-off, white and Latino centrist Dems who may have voted for Democrats for lower position but wanted Trump because they believe he and the national Republicans will give them tax breaks. But mostly it wasn’t split.

      But the down-ticket Democrats didn’t do badly at all. They lost some House seats in areas where Democrats managed a temporary victory in 2018 in mostly red districts, which is normal, and they gained many record breaking, progressive, multicultural candidates into offices. They have a shot at turning the Senate into a tie with Harris being the tie breaker — through Georgia of all things. And voters even in red states voted for a lot of progressive initiatives into law and rejected most of the authoritarian, repressive ones. There was good progress in a number of state houses and turnout was amazing. They flipped Georgia and Arizona, a trend in those states that will continue. They mobilized an amazing number of voters despite a pandemic and massive voter suppression efforts by the Republican controlled states and counties and the sabotage of the post office, with many people forced to wait eight-twelve hours to vote or have mail in ballots at risk of not being delivered.

      The view that the Democrats did badly was because of the hype that the Democrats were going to wipe out the Republicans, that Trump would be trampled into the dust — which wasn’t realistic — and that the Blue wave of 2018 would double, giving us the Senate, Texas, etc. when you usually only get a big opposition bump in mid-term elections. They wanted to see a total repudiation of the authoritarianism, racism, corruption, etc. and that wasn’t going to happen. White evangelicals have worked for 40 years to gerrymander, suppress, impoverish, etc. to extend their control over the Republicans and the state governments, with the backing of thirty years of a massively funded network of right wing propaganda media, think tanks, court cases, and so forth — so powerfully that they have thousands refusing to wear masks and happy to increase the death rate in the pandemic. You don’t overturn all that in four years, even with a carnival barker bigot rampager like Trump — all of which is part of his charm for about a third of the nation. Even with the turnout we got, the young people and so forth, it’s a long haul dismantling. If you look at what the Republicans did — openly, viciously — and what the police let happen — openly, viciously — folks like Stacey Abrams are freaking heroes. And the organizing is getting impressive.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. As a Michigan native, I am simultaneously horrified, insulted and amused that Rudy Giuliani has managed to confused Michigan and Minnesota in an affidavit alleging voter fraud.

    Seriously, people. Your crack legal team can’t even keep track of which states they’re gathering so-called evidence from. They’re full of shit and so is everybody who won’t admit it at this point.


    1. I saw a screengrab over at George Takei’s website that they were complaining that there were too many votes from Michigan… because they thought the Upper Peninsula was part of Canada.

      Yes, it’s a geographical oddity going back a couple hundred years, but still. Michigan comes in two pieces. I learned that before I had 2 digits to my age.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can see two factors here.

        The first is the amazing level of bias and self-deception among Trump supporters. They like the conclusion so they don’t bother to check the evidence or reasoning, They just assume it’s good no matter how flimsy it is.

        The second is a deliberate play in that tendency. They don’t need to waste time doing the work because there would be little hope of a decent case achieving the results they want. A few minor irregularities aren’t going to be enough to get a judge to throw out millions of votes. So the cases are for the base who won’t bother to notice that the cases are being thrown out for very good cause. And I bet that at least some of the puppies are falling for that and blaming the judges.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. That’s hilarious. The UP is *obviously* part of Wisconsin.

        (When I was in Madison, I knew a bunch of Yoopers who agreed with that, and none when I lived in suburban Detroit. So clearly this is correct.)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yeah, I remember the class wondering why it wasn’t part of WI when it’s obviously stuck to it. Mi is the mitten. And obviously you draw the line between the US and Canada down the middle of the lakes, no matter how you assign the UP.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania case has been throughly rejected by the judge – a Republican.

      Their central argument was that two electors had been denied* the right to vote by their counties, therefore ALL the votes in other counties (where they allegedly would have been able to vote) should be thrown out. – 4.8 million votes Which would conveniently leave Trump the winner – a point that the judge noticed. Worse, only the votes in the Presidential election were to be thrown out, not the other elections on the same ballot, even though they would be equally affected by the issues. It was never going to fly in any honest court. It’s a pretty blatant attempt to steal the election in Pennsylvania. (You want a real example of incompetent heavy-handed “election fuckery”, this is it),

      (* The “denial” amounted to not letting them know that their mail-in ballots had been incorrectly submitted, giving them a chance to cast a provisional ballot instead. So not quite as severe as it sounds. But then they weren’t even suing the people responsible for the denial because that was fine. Which isn’t great if the supposed denial is the “injury” they’re suing over).


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