Listened to Picture-Perfect Democracy from On the Media | WNYC Studios

The history of the American primary; the first town to vote; and New Hampshire reporters do some self-reflection.

The sloppy roll-out of Iowa results prompted disinformation and confusion over the mechanics of the caucus system. This week, On the Media looks at the origins of the nomination process to explain how we got here. Plus, local reporters in New Hampshire examine the power struggle at the heart of the upcoming contest. 

1. Galen Druke [@galendruke] on the history of America's unique primary system. Listen.

2. Stranglehold reporters Jack Rodolico [@JackRodolico], Lauren Chooljian [@laurenchooljian], and Casey McDermott [@caseymcdermott] on Dixville Notch's mythical status. Listen.  

3. Lauren Chooljian [@laurenchooljian] examines how New Hampshire's local press benefits from being a first-in-the-nation primary. Listen.

Read Why Don’t Polls Have More Information About Black Voters? by Kevin Drum (Mother Jones)

Rashawn Ray wants us to stop treating African Americans as a monolithic group:

Black Americans vote on par or higher than their state population. They represent a significant share of Democratic voters, especially in states like South Carolina (nearly 60%). Despite representing this large voting bloc, polls such as Quinnipiac continue to frame black Americans as a monolithic group, while disaggregating white people by age, political identification and education.

I argue it is important to see the heterogeneity of black Americans. Others agree. Professor Eddie Glaude Jr said: “We have to be more nuanced in how we talk about black voters. I would love to see the breakdown of the Q poll. Age. Class. Etc.” Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith said, “I’ve examined the newest Quinnipiac poll very thoroughly … and unfortunately, it does not break down black voters by age, class, education, or even gender. Just ‘Black.’ White respondents receive more nuanced treatment in the poll.

The problem here is not one of racism, but of statistics. The average poll reaches about a thousand people. Of those, about 13 percent are likely to be black. If you then break things down by, say, age, you’ll have only about 30-40 respondents in each group. Unfortunately, as the group size goes down, the margin of error for each group goes up. In this case, the margin of error for each of the age groups is upwards of 15-20 percent, which makes the results useless. It would be a dereliction of duty to even report them.

Some polls oversample blacks and Hispanics to avoid this problem, but that’s expensive. It’s usually done infrequently, and only for surveys specifically aimed at reporting the views of one ethnic group. So don’t blame Quinnipiac for this. It’s a problem of arithmetic and money, not bad faith.

👓 The Woodard projection | Jon Udell

Read The Woodard projection by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)

In a memorable episode of The West Wing, visitors from the Cartographers for Social Justice upend CJ’s and Josh’s worldviews.

Cartographer: “The Peters projection.”

CJ: “What the hell is that?”

Cartographer: “It’s where you’ve been living this whole time.”

I’m having the same reaction to Colin Woodard’s 2011 book American Nations. He sees North America as three federations of nations. The federation we call the United States comprises nations he calls Yankeedom, New Netherland, The Midlands, Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, El Norte, The Far West, and The Left Coast.

Here’s his definition of a nation:

nation is a group of people who share — or believe they share — a common culture, ethnic origin, language, historical experience, artifacts, and symbols.”

I love the concept of this thesis! Ordering a copy of the book for myself.

I’ve lived in Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, Yankeedom, The Midlands, and the Left Coast and I’ve always unconsciously known many of these borders within culture. It’s often been difficult to describe the subtle cultural shifts and divides between many of these places to others. I can’t wait to read a book that delves into all of it depth.

👓 Kate Manne on why female candidates get ruled “unelectable” so quickly | Vox

Read Kate Manne on why female candidates get ruled "unelectable" so quickly by Ezra Klein (Vox)
"Electability isn’t a static social fact; it’s a social fact we’re constructing."

👓 How does a leadership challenge work in the Conservative Party? | The Economist

Read How does a leadership challenge work in the Conservative Party? (The Economist)
Theresa May could be subjected to one imminently

👓 A Judge Just Ruled Thousands Of Florida Voters Get Another Chance For Their Ballots To Be Counted | BuzzFeed News

Read A Judge Just Ruled Thousands Of Florida Voters Get Another Chance For Their Ballots To Be Counted (BuzzFeed News)
The ruling sides with Democrats, who said a policy of tossing out valid ballots with signature issues was unconstitutional.

📺 Brazilian Elections: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO | YouTube

Watched Brazilian Elections: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) from YouTube

Brazil is about to elect a new president during a turbulent period of political corruption and economic uncertainty. John Oliver urges the people of Brazil not to figuratively fingerbang their democracy.

👓 Don Blankenship, West Virginia Candidate, Lives Near Las Vegas and Mulled Chinese Citizenship | New York Times

Read Don Blankenship, West Virginia Candidate, Lives Near Las Vegas and Mulled Chinese Citizenship by Trip Gabriel and Stephanie Saul (nytimes.com)
The former coal mining executive, a strong supporter of President Trump who is running as an “American competitionist,” has refused to disclose his personal finances as required by law.
Just a scant few years ago, no one would have tolerated someone like this even running. One wonders what it is he thinks he has to gain by doing so? Given his low morals, I’m even more afraid to know the answer.

👓 Pennsylvania’s special election should have been a cakewalk for the GOP | The Economist

Read Pennsylvania’s special election should have been a cakewalk for the GOP (The Economist)
“MARINE, prosecutor, patriot, Catholic.

👓 Winner-Take-All Electoral Practice Faces Voter-Rights Challenge | Bloomberg

Read Winner-Take-All Electoral Practice Faces Voter-Rights Challenge by Laurel Brubaker Calkins (Bloomberg.com)
Civil rights activists are challenging the legality of four states’ winner-take-all method of allocating U.S. presidential electoral college votes, claiming the practice magnifies some votes at the expense of others and violates voters’ constitutional rights.
This is a very creative way of attacking this problem. We definitely need to restructure our processes and get rid of the Electoral College