The Rule of 13 in House and Senate Elections

If you want to predict House or Senate elections, a useful notion is what I call the Rule of 13. It says that if a district is misaligned with your partisanship by more than 13 points, then, to a close approximation, you have zero chance of winning that district. The rule predicts the following: (i) Mark Pryor is sure to lose his Senate reelection bid in Arkansas, (ii) Mitch McConnell is sure to win his reelection bid in Kentucky, (iii) if voters become convinced that challenger Greg Orman is, for all intents and purposes, a Democrat, then Pat Roberts is sure to win his reelection; (iv) although Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina are conservative states, they are not conservative enough to invoke the Rule of 13; accordingly the Democratic candidates in those states at least have a chance of winning; (v) although the West Virginia 2nd and 3rd House races are called “tossups” by some prognosticators, the Rule of 13 says that the Republican candidates (Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins) will win for certain.

The Rule of 13 is formally defined as follows. First, define the partisan index of a district according the most recent presidential vote in that district. For example, consider the situation of Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) near the end of his sixth term in office, 2010-12. At that time, the most recent presidential election was the 2008 race between John McCain and Barack Obama. In Ross’s district (based on lines redrawn after the 2010 census) McCain received 166,247 votes and Obama received 103,478 votes. McCain’s share of the two-party vote in the district was thus 61.6%. Meanwhile, McCain’s two-party vote share in the nation was 46.0%. Define the partisan index of Ross’s district as the difference of those two numbers. Thus, the district’s partisan index was “Republican 15.6.” (The Cook Political Report constructs a similar “Partisan Voting Index,” except it bases its number on an average of the prior two presidential elections. Some research I’ve conducted suggests that the partisanship of a district follows a random walk, which implies that only the most recent presidential election is relevant in predicting the political views of a district; prior elections do not provide any more information.)

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Evil Intent

A North Kitsap High School sophomore is awaiting a juvenile court hearing, accused of creating a hit list and threatening to shoot fellow students.

So begins the story of a 16 year old in my local community who was arrested last night. After the school shooting in Marysville, Wa, last week people are a little on edge concerning violence in schools. In many minds the response to students saying someone was planning to kill other students was entirely reasonable. I, however, just cannot see it that way.

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DC Meetup Photos?

I’m not sure if the photos from the amazingly fun — and crowded! — Ricochet D.C. Meetup have been posted somewhere, but if not, can we post them here? I’d love to see them.

Thanks again to all who turned out. It was a blast seeing everyone.

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If The Wall Could Speak

Rays of sunlight burst from above, bathing the very air itself with my spirit as the deep rumble of a motorcycle across the lot heralds the arrival of another veteran. He just parked his bike, regarding me from across the parking lot. Sometimes they walk right up to me, and I recognize them, though the lines in their face betray the years and the pain, their eyes searching for a brother in arms. Sometimes they walk all 288 feet, though often times the emotions overwhelm them and they have to break away. Other times, however, their grief is too strong and they watch me from a distance before riding away in silence.

Very seldom do I hear someone say that a comrade or loved one’s name is etched in these panels. Instead, they say, “My grandfather is on the wall,” or as one Purple Heart Recipient said yesterday, his eyes welling up, “twelve of my friends are up there.” I see all who gaze my direction. I remember the time my granddaughter came to visit. She was born long after after I arrived here, of course, and I recognized her long before she saw my name. It hurt harder than anything to see the tears stream down her young face.

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On Cat-calling and Feminism

heybabypigMaking the rounds on the Internet is a video of a woman minding her own business on the streets of New York and being catcalled. Everyone else has weighed in, so I thought I’d throw my two cents into the ring. Although I’m sure that everyone will ignore this part, I’d like to say that harassing a woman (or, for that matter, men) is not acceptable under any circumstances. It’s just simply not okay. That being said, let’s dive in.

If you haven’t seen the video, it features a woman walking around New York City wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The video was filmed secretly (she was aware of it, those around her were not) for 10 hours, and she was catcalled 108 times. I think we can all agree that that is pretty gross. So, where does the blame fall for such grossness? I’d argue that quite a lot of this is the legacy of second- and third-wave feminism.

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Demographic Churn

For a number of years, Republicans have been told that demographic shifts will ensure their party is reduced to a permanent minority status. Democrats have consoled themselves through many electoral losses by sobbing gently into the pages of The Emerging Democratic Majority, and similar tomes. A mixture of more minority voters, and a generation of young people who find the Republicans to be out of touch, has been scheduled to doom the GOP in national elections.

Or will it? In what will surely come as a surprise to Democrats, young people do not remain young forever. Time marches forever onward. A new crop of barbarians arise each year, and their voting preferences aren’t as straight forward as Democrats would prefer.

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Goofus and Gallant on Government

Since I’m all about the youth vote, I updated the comics of my childhood with timeless messages about the free market and limited government.


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Foreign Affairs
Vote Locally, Think Globally


With significant changes taking place abroad, how is American foreign policy impacting the midterm elections?

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Submit Your Questions: Ricochet Forum with Greg Gutfeld

GutfeldIn the latest installment of our Ricochet Forum series — where you, our members, get to put your questions directly to the names in the news — we welcome Greg Gutfeld, host of Red Eye and cohost of The Five on Fox News. To submit your questions for him, simply leave them as comments in this thread. Remember to keep them concise and direct. We’ll post Greg’s responses next week.

Remember — to participate, you have to be a Ricochet member. Haven’t signed up yet? Do it today for as low as $5 a month.

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The Libertarian Podcast: Voting Rights and the Midterms

On this week’s installment of the Libertarian podcast from the Hoover Institution, I talked to Professor Epstein about the always-contentious issue of voting rights, a topic back in the news since the Supreme Court allowed Texas to go forward with its new voter identification laws. We discuss the ongoing fight over voting rights, President Obama’s criticisms of how the Supreme Court has handled the issue, and what it might all mean for this year’s midterm elections. Listen in below:

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The Exorcist, The Demon, and The One Who Is Not There

imageIt’s nearly Halloween, which means a cornucopia of horror movies on TV. Most of them are just awful, with a few masterpieces occasionally making the grade. Last night some cable channel featured Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and a couple of zombie features I’d never heard of. Frankly, the horror movie genre is in a slump. It’s zombies, zombies, zombies, all the way down and I’ve never understood their appeal. I have a pretty strong stomach — I always have anchovies on my pizza — but I demur when it comes to people eating people. I just don’t understand how they can be the luckiest people in the world.

For just over 40 years, The Exorcist has been the magnum opus of horror films. I’ve never completely understood how such a frankly religious movie has been transformed into a Halloween staple. Yes, it’s terrifying and — for whatever reason — people love to be terrified. But what makes it a perennial favorite, I think, is the gut deep fear that demonic possession may be possible. Nobody’s going to turn into a zombie or be resurrected as a member of the fraternity of the undead. But at a visceral level, most people believe fallen angels are more than superstition who literally, in the words of the Prayer to St. Michael, “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

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Do We Even Have A Foreign Policy?

imageEven The New York Times is piling on Susan Rice for this — so perhaps it’s unnecessary to pose the question — but her comments strike me as so wondrously stupid and terrifying that I’ve got to wonder whether there could be any charitable or vaguely reassuring way of reading it:

[Rice] was peppered with critiques of the president’s Syria and China policies, as well as the White House’s delays in releasing a national security strategy, a congressionally mandated document that sets out foreign policy goals. On that last point, Ms. Rice had a sardonic reply.

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Do Cops Look for an Excuse to Shoot?

shutterstock_157183979The next time you hear someone complain that police officers are always looking for an excuse to shoot people, ask them to consider recent events in California.

On Oct. 24, Deputy Danny Oliver, of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, and Investigator Michael Davis, of the Placer County Sheriff’s Department, were shot and killed by Marcelo Marquez, a twice-deported illegal immigrant from Mexico.

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The Ricochet Podcast
Special Podcast: The Seven Deadly Virtues: Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell

UnknownLast night at the luxurious AEI headquarters in Washington DC, Templeton Press hosted an event for their new book The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell.

On the panel, a few funny conservatives you may have heard of: Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, James Lileks, Jonathan V. Last, Christine Rosen, and P.J. O’Rourke.

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Nixon’s Goes To Ricochet

nixon5ajpg-bb784feb1f756b28As has been noted elsewhere, this week’s Ricochet Podcast will be delayed until Friday, but we think it’ll be worth the wait. This week’s guest: the great Harry Shearer.  You may know him as heavy metal bassist Derek Smalls from This Is Spinal Tap, or as the voice of Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and numerous other characters from The Simpsons,  or perhaps you’re a fan of the Chris Guest ensemble comedies Best In Show or The Mighty Wind, or the hundred or so other credits in his illustrious career.

But we’re going to be talking to him about his latest project Nixon’s The One, his uncanny recreation of key moments from the Nixon Oval Office tapes.

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Karl Rove Strikes Again

I’ve got it, I’ve got it. I have finally figured it out. This whole Ebola kerfuffle is the work — drum roll, please — of that consummate Machiavel: Karl Rove.

It could not be otherwise. Who else could have invented Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC? Who could have instructed him to say that, if we sit on a bus next to someone who has been exposed to Ebola, we should not worry one whit, and then to add that, if you have been exposed to Ebola, you should not ride on a bus? Someone should investigate how Dr. Frieden wormed his way into the Obama administration. I myself smell a rat. It had to be the work of that mastermind of wickedness — yes, yes, I mean, the evil Karl Rove.

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So This Is How Quantitative Easing Dies…

…with a whimper.

The Federal Reserve was expected today to end quantitative easing, and it did.

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Catcalls and the Death of Chivalry

Savages around the globe are murdering young women, selling them into sex slavery, and tossing acid into their faces. But a new viral video wants to redirect our outrage to another battleground of the global war on women: catcalls.

The video appeared yesterday in my Facebook feed with an image of a female and the headline “This is what it’s like to be catcalled on the street 108 times in a single day.” At first I thought it a humblebrag, but soon discovered it was yet another campaign to make men feel guilty.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Peter Thiel on the Virtues of Monopolies

In this final excerpt from my recent conversation with Peter Thiel for Uncommon Knowledge, he defends the part of his recent book (Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Futurethat has received the most attention, not to mention criticism: his contention than entrepreneurs ought to be pursuing monopolies. What say you, Ricochet? Convinced?

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Ricochet Membership Week: John Yoo

img-john-yoo-new-hr-scholar-image_101107300961-e1413392070695All this week, Ricochet contributors are telling you why they choose to make the site their online home — and why they’d encourage you to join us by becoming a member. Today a message from longtime Ricochet contributor John Yoo, Professor of Law at the University of California—Berkeley and Richard Epstein’s partner-in-crime on our Law Talk podcast:

I wake up in the morning, surrounded by redwoods, chirping birds, and the smell of coffee. I am ready to charge out the door and engage with the great issues of the day. But then, like Sheriff Rick in The Walking Dead, I realize that something is very, very wrong. There are no conservatives about. The coffee has been lovingly hand-washed after being plucked from the droppings of Central American bats and is accompanied by stern glances at my use of paper cups.

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Video: Lileks, Long, and Goldberg on The Seven Deadly Virtues

Last night, Rob Long, James Lileks, and Jonah Goldberg joined up with Christine Rosen, P.J. O’Rourke, and Jonathan V. Last at the American Enterprise Institute to discuss their contributions to the new book, The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as HellWe’ll be releasing this program as a podcast shortly, but in the meantime you can watch video of the event below:

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Podcast: Breaking Down the Senate Races, with Doug Rivers and David Brady

If you’ve reached that point in the election cycle where you’re starting to obsess over the details of every close Senate race, this is the podcast for you. In this special midterms show from the Hoover Institution, I talk with Doug Rivers — chief scientist at the polling firm YouGov LLC and a Senior Fellow at Hoover — and Hoover Senior Fellow David Brady about the state of the most closely-run races going into Election Day. We look at the numbers and the trendlines for virtually every major race that’s going to be significant on Tuesday night. Think of it as the political junky’s equivalent of NFL Sunday Ticket. Listen in:

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On Parental Rights

On the website Neurologica — branded as “Your daily fix of neuroscience, skepticism, and critical thinking” — talk has turned to parental rights. Steven Novella, MD asks:

[Should] desperate parents, regardless of their educational or cultural background… have absolute authority over the treatment of their very sick children, or does the state have some authority and responsibility to defend the welfare of every sick child?

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Our Ebola Policy: Serious Grounds for Distrust

As you may have noticed, we now have at the federal level two, perhaps three, policies for dealing with those who have spent time in the countries in West Africa where Ebola poses health risks.

We have one policy for the soldiers we dispatched to the region. Before returning to the United States, they are going to be put into quarantine abroad for 21 days.

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