Tag Archives: Silver

Which Airline Kicks Off the Most Passengers?

Mother Jones

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With “involuntary deplanings” in the news, Nate Silver points us to some data that’s oddly intriguing. Here’s how often passengers are kicked off flights on the Big Four airlines in the United States. It comes via the Department of Transportation’s latest monthly report:

Delta overbooks at a far higher rate than any other airline. However, it uses an innovative Coasian auction system during check-in to persuade passengers on overbooked flights to give up their seats for cash payouts. As a result, it has by far the lowest rate of forcing people off of flights even when they don’t want to go.

By contrast, Southwest—which has been taunting United over the Dr. Dao incident—has a slightly lower rate of overbooking than the other airlines. However, they apparently have a pretty crappy system for handling overbooked flights, which gives them the second-highest rate of forced deplanings.

United, ironically, isn’t bad on this score. Their overbooking rate is about average, and their “involuntary deplanings” rate is quite low. Depending on how you feel about things, Delta would probably be your first choice on the overbooking front, but United is a solid second.

Like it or not, about 40,000 people a year are kicked off planes against their will. Some of them were standby passengers who knew this might happen. Some weren’t. Given those numbers, the interesting thing isn’t that United had to remove one of these folks by force. The interesting thing is that apparently it’s never happened before.1

1It hasn’t happened while cell phones were recording the whole thing, anyway.


Which Airline Kicks Off the Most Passengers?

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These Maps and Charts Show Where Clinton and Trump’s Essential Voters Are

Mother Jones

Three weeks ago, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver made an hypothetical map of what would happen if only women voted for president on November 8. The results were strikingly lopsided: Hillary Clinton would trounce Donald Trump, 458 electoral votes to 80.


After that map (right) went viral, Trump fans rushed to reinforce his resistibility to most women by tweeting the hashtag #Repealthe19th (as in the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote). Another Silver map, showing that a male-only electorate would elect Trump in a landslide, confused Eric Trump, who blasted it to his dad’s supporters, proclaiming, “Right now all the momentum is on our side.” These maps also sparked a slew of “What if only ____ voted” joke maps.

Ste Kinney-Fields

Yet Silver’s gendered election maps also inspired a set of maps (right) that further broke down various electoral scenarios by demographic group, which was shared widely.

While there were some initial questions about their origins and sourcing, the maps’ creator, Ste Kinney-Fields, came forward and revealed that her data came from FiveThirtyEight’s Swing-O-Matic. That’s a nifty tool that lets users generate presidential election outcomes by tweaking the political preferences and voter turnout among different demographic groups.

These maps highlight just how essential demographics are for each candidate’s path to the White House. Clinton can not win without the votes of women and people of color, and conversely, Trump can not win without men and white people. But these maps’ emphasis on winner-take-all electoral math obscures the depth and variance of the candidates’ support among key demographic groups. Silver’s map of women’s votes assumes that because Clinton is beating Trump by 10 percentage points nationally, a women-only election would boost her performance by 10 points in every state. And the viral maps based on the Swing-O-Matic uses 2012 election data to predict voter preferences and turnout rates.

For more current, state-level numbers on how various demographic groups might vote, I pulled data from YouGov, whose election model is based on more than 46,000 recent interviews with potential voters. Using its data, I generated a series of “What if only ____ voted” maps show which states the candidates would win, and by how much. (They’re based on YouGov’s October 22 data.)

What if only women voted?

Let’s start with women. In Silver’s map, women would hand Clinton 458 electoral votes. (A candidate needs 270 to win.) In the map below, based on the YouGov data, Clinton still has a lock on 330 electoral votes. (Texas and South Carolina were too close to tell, but they would probably go to Trump.) In all 50 states, she gets more support from women than men, but her level of support among women varies widely. Their support for Clinton ranges from a high of 86 percent in Washington, DC, to a low of 30 percent in Utah. In New York and California, she’d win by more than 30 points. But in Wyoming and West Virginia, she’d lose by more than 20 points.

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What if only men voted?

Relying just on men, Trump would easily win with 338 electoral votes. Overall, Trump has a consistent advantage among men, ranging from 2 points (Delaware) to 10 points (Montana). Men’s support for Trump ranges from a high of 61 percent in West Virginia and Wyoming to a low of 12 percent in Washington, DC. The map below is a bit bluer than Silver’s: Clinton could win over dudes by a small margin in Virginia.

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What if only white people voted?

Trump’s strong support from white voters is no secret. If only they voted, he’d win handily. Here, the YouGov data is similar to the FiveThirtyEight data. It shows the depth of support that Trump enjoys among white people, especially in the South, where Clinton trails by 40 points or more in every state from Texas to South Carolina. And in most otherwise blue states, Trump and Clinton are within several points of each other.

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YouGov doesn’t provide state-level data for white men, white women, or white people by education level. However, by plugging its national-level data into the Swing-O-Matic, we can compare how various categories of white people would affect the election according to the FiveThirtyEight model and the YouGov model. (One big difference between two data sets is that FiveThirtyEight’s assumes two percent of the vote going to third party candidates; YouGov’s shows nine percent of the white vote going to third party candidates.)

The YouGov data for white people overall generates a pretty bleak electoral scenario for Clinton. However, its data for white women and college-educated whites looks much better for her. If either of these groups voted alone, Clinton would eke out a victory with 280 electoral votes.

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What if only black people voted?

Electoral maps don’t get any bluer than this. African-Americans support Clinton by huge margins. Only in Idaho does her support dip below 80 percent of black respondents—to a still-respectable 74 percent. Even though there’s no data for super-white Montana, it’s highly likely that its small black population backs Clinton—creating a scenario in which she’d pick up all 538 electoral votes. (So far, Trump’s Twitter followers haven’t suggested #Repealthe15th.)

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What if only Hispanics and Latinos voted?

Clinton also would enjoy a monumental landslide if only Hispanics and Latinos voted. However, her support among this key constituency dips in the deep South: In Mississippi, 47 percent of Hispanics prefer Clinton, while 42 percent support Trump.

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What if only 18- to 29-year-olds voted?

The viral “What if” maps didn’t look at age, but YouGov’s data does include age cohorts. Young voters are another important Clinton base: If only Millennials voted, they’d overwhelmingly vote to make her America’s second-oldest president ever. However, her support among the young and youngish varies widely by state. In otherwise red states like Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota, significant chunks of these voters say they’re supporting third-party candidates Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. The real question about this voting bloc is: How many of them will show up to vote? About half of eligible 18- to 29-year-olds voted in 2012.

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What if only people 65 or older voted?

On the flip side, America’s oldest voters would elect fellow Baby Boomer Donald Trump. Clinton would still hang on in coastal blue states, but would still lose to a candidate who says he feels 35. And this group doesn’t slack on Election Day: About 72 percent of voters 65 or older cast ballots in 2012, one of the highest turnout rates for any demographic group.

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While these maps are a fun way to generate poli-sci-fi scenarios, they’re still a useful tool for exploring the demographic coalitions Clinton and Trump need to win.

Or here’s another way to look at the data: Could Clinton and Trump win if any one of their major demographic bases didn’t show up to vote? If white voters or any subgroup of white voters didn’t vote, Trump would lose. If Hispanic voters didn’t vote, Clinton would still be safe. But if black voters went AWOL, she’d be cutting it uncomfortably close. If Clinton does win next Tuesday, she’ll probably thank all Americans for their support. But she should really thank women, people of color, and younger voters.

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These Maps and Charts Show Where Clinton and Trump’s Essential Voters Are

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Clinton Campaign Isn’t Worried About Trump’s Poll Numbers—Yet

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump has taken a lead in several national polls following the Republican convention, but Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook isn’t sweating it yet—at least not publicly.

Polls from the Los Angeles Times, CNN, and CBS News all have Trump slightly ahead nationally following the RNC. But at a press briefing on the opening morning of the Democratic National Convention, Mook dismissed concerns that his candidate was lagging, pointing out that conventions have always boosted a candidate’s polling numbers in the past. “There’s a clear trend historically in polling that after your convention, you always get a bump,” Mook said. “I would kind of suspend any kind of polling analysis until after our convention.”

Polling guru Nate Silver weighed in over the weekend and said that while Trump’s poll numbers certainly have improved post-convention, “the initial data suggests that a small-to-medium bounce is more likely than a large one.” He added on Twitter that Trump got a typical bounce of 4 percent. Still, Silver’s model on FiveThirtyEight now predicts that Trump would stand a 57.5 percent chance of winning if the election were held today. But like Mook, he notes that Trump’s lead is due to a standard convention bounce, and his more advanced model has the same message for Clinton supporters: Don’t panic just yet.

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Clinton Campaign Isn’t Worried About Trump’s Poll Numbers—Yet

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Trump’s "Go-To" National Security Adviser Says He’s Never Talked Policy With Trump

Mother Jones

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When Donald Trump, the reality show tycoon turned GOP front-runner, appeared on Meet the Press this past Sunday, host Chuck Todd asked him, “Who do you talk to for military advice right now?” At first, Trump had no direct answer. He replied, “Well, I watch the shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great—you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and you have certain people that you like.” Todd pressed him: “But is there a go-to for you?” Trump said he had two or three “go-to” advisers. He named John Bolton, one of the most hawkish neoconservatives, and retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs, who is a military analyst for MSNBC and NBC News. “Col. Jack Jacobs is a good guy,” Trump said. “And I see him on occasion.”

There’s just one problem with Trump citing Jacobs as a national security adviser: Jacobs says he has never talked to Trump about military policy.

“He may have said the first person who came to mind,” Jacobs tells Mother Jones. “I know him. But I’m not a consultant. I’m not certain if he has a national security group of people. I don’t know if he does or if he doesn’t. If he does, I’m not one of them.”

Jacobs, who received a Medal of Honor (and two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts) for his service in Vietnam, notes that he has attended numerous charity events where Trump was present. “I’ve seen him at a number of functions,” he says. But Jacobs adds that he has had no discussions with Trump about national security affairs—at those events or anywhere else.

Jacobs says he assumes Trump has watched his appearances on television. But does Jacobs see his on-air comments reflected in what Trump has been saying as a candidate? “I talk about a wide variety of things on television,” Jacobs remarks. “Who knows what anybody absorbs? But I’m delighted to hear that he’s a fan of MSNBC.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry about why Trump cited Jacobs as a military policy adviser.

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Trump’s "Go-To" National Security Adviser Says He’s Never Talked Policy With Trump

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3.5 Minutes, 10 Bullets, and 1 Racially Charged Tragedy

Mother Jones

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On Black Friday 2012, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was sitting with three friends in a car at a Florida gas station, cranked up the rap on the stereo. Three and a half minutes later, he was dead, shot at 10 times by Michael Dunn, a middle-aged white man bristling at the black teens’ “thug music.” In a new documentary, 3-1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, director Marc Silver explores the perfect storm of racism and lax gun laws that led to the killing.

The film, which opened in theaters this month, comes at a time when a lot of racially motivated tragedies have been in the news—the most recent being the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. Jordan’s death wasn’t classified as a hate crime, but the film makes an implicit argument for Dunn’s racial motivations, zooming in on his testimony and his jailhouse phone calls with his girlfriend, in which he insists the teens were armed and dangerous—no gun was found—and that he acted in self defense. Throughout, the film touches on the murky legal ground at the nexus of bias and self-defense laws: What constitutes a “reasonable belief” that one’s life is in danger when that belief may be borne out of racial stereotypes?

The film documents both of Dunn’s trials—the first, which ended in a hung jury, and the second, in which he was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Silver follows Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, Jordan’s parents, as they go to court each day and wait for the final verdict in their son’s death. The pair must maintain their decorum in the courtroom as the defense vilifies their son and his friends—all while wondering whether his legacy will match that of another unarmed Florida teen whose shooter walked free; in one scene, Jordan’s father recalls a text he got from Trayvon Martin’s dad: “I just want to welcome you to a club that none of us want to be in.”

Mother Jones: Tell me a little about why you decided to make this film.

Marc Silver: I saw a tension, a film that would be able to explore this awful moment when two cars happen to pull up next to each other, and within that coincidence this tragedy that consisted of racial profiling, access to guns, and laws that give people the confidence to use those guns. It was unique that you would be able to deconstruct this one tight moment and come out with the big, macro issues. I also felt like it was important to learn about Michael Dunn. I was interested in the idea that there would be audience members who would have some sense of empathy with him at the outset, who also might have felt fear when a car full of young black teenagers pulled up and they start having an argument over music. Through Michael Dunn, you learn about many other people in America who have that same implicit bias, and it might make audiences look at themselves in a different way.

MJ: Jordan’s parents, Ron and Lucy, are featured prominently. You capture some heart-wrenching moments. How did you get that kind of access?

MS: I shoot and do sound on my own, so I’m not approaching them with a big crew and lights and all the rest of it. That’s the technical answer. There was also a huge emotional relationship. We met about seven months before the trial. By the time the trial came, I asked, “Would you be okay if I did several mornings with you and several evenings? It’s really important that the audience gets to see not just you guys sitting there stoically in court, but actually what impact this really has on you.” They were very open to that. They could see the bigger picture, in terms of audiences really understanding that, however many shootings and racist incidents there are in the US, that this is the effect.

MJ: It does feel like, since Ferguson, we hear news about the killing of black men almost daily.

MS: I really hope people walk away from the film remembering that there are concentric circles around these events. If you put these on a map and you actually counted the number of people affected, that would be a very different picture. It’s not just families; it’s communities.

MJ: What was it like documenting Ron and Lucy’s trepidation?

MS: That was a horrific journey. We could feel the tension, the exhaustion, the horror of having to sit through the trial. Every day in the courtroom, the judge reminded people that they weren’t allowed to show emotion—I presume because it might affect the jury. They also weren’t allowed to talk about race because it wasn’t officially declared a hate crime. That’s when I understood this difference between the cold environment of the courtroom and this emotional, every-parent’s-worst-nightmare story unfolding outside the courtroom that the public were finding themselves attached to—because clearly it was about racism.

MJ: A second thread in the film touches on stand your ground and gun laws. What made you decide to toggle between those two plotlines?

MS: The 50 pages, or whatever it was, of self-defense laws the judge had to read out to the jury lasted about 30 minutes. That obviously wasn’t going to work in the film. And the specifics are really difficult to explain. So we put that across to the audience in the simplest way possible by using the jury—in the way the prosecutor, the defense, and the judge explained self defense. It was essential that we embedded that into the story. Of course, you come up against something really weird: Trayvon Martin wasn’t a stand-your-ground case. Jordan Davis’ case wasn’t a stand-your-ground case. That really complicates stuff.

We really didn’t get into gun control because the heart of the film is about race. There are subsequent things in the film that may make you think about gun control without us having to slap you with it. One was the white witness at the gas station: He describes the gun in such great detail. To be able to say the name, make, and model of a gun you saw for a split second goes to show how embedded gun culture is in Florida.

MJ: You’re from the UK, which treats firearms very differently than the United States does. How did that affect the film’s outlook?

MS: I like to think that it gave me a less judgmental perspective. It’s always weird coming to the US and seeing how powerful the gun lobby is and how passionate some people are about the use of guns when you come from a place where hardly any of our police have guns. I understand philosophically the right to self-defense and the Second Amendment. But consider what practical effect these concepts have. It’s very simple: If there wasn’t a gun in Michael Dunn’s car, Jordan Davis would not be dead, and Michael Dunn would not be spending the rest of his life in prison. The gun created a totally different narrative.

MJ: You’re also white. Did that affect the process in any way?

MS: I didn’t feel it hindered my making the film. That’s not to say if I was African American, or American, or owned a gun, I may not have told the story in a different way. But being white made me want to explore what proportion of white America Michael Dunn represents.

MJ: Did you find an answer?

MS: I always had a suspicion that Dunn’s perception of race was wildly skewed. Then we found the prison phone calls. The way he described, as you hear in the film, his conviction that Jordan’s friends are thugs, that they won’t tell the truth in court, that him killing Jordan actually potentially saved someone else’s life because Jordan didn’t get to kill somebody else. And that all of this is related to baggy pants, their fathers not being around, and MTV. The belief system he had in place led to Jordan’s killing. And there were some things that Michael Dunn said that were, for me, metaphorical of what many white people in America say and how they perceive black men. A lot of people think that MTV is this, or all black fathers are that. I don’t know how many people who have those opinions would then reach for their gun. But I think a lot of people have those opinions. Michael Dunn is just one person, but what he comes to represent is much more interesting.

Also, I thought one of the maddest things about Dunn’s rant about black fathers not being present was this amazing irony that Dunn had not seen his son in many years and was literally going to his estranged son’s wedding that day. So he would be a not-present father, and Ron, Jordan’s dad, would be ever-present father. Even in death, Ron is essentially fathering and standing up for his son.

MJ: You started this film before Ferguson got more of America talking about race again. How has the explosion of debate on this topic affected the final product?

MS: I remember we were sitting in the edit suite watching Ferguson erupt on Facebook and in the media. There were moments when we were itching to go out and shoot, not really knowing why. So we held ourselves back. But actually that was the wisest thing. Because Jordan’s story held within its DNA all of these layers that not only spoke to what happened specifically to him, but spoke to bigger things that were, and obviously have been happening in the US for many years—this year in particular. All of that had already happened before Ferguson. So technically nothing changed on the timeline. It just resonated more powerfully.

Ferguson happened in between the two Dunn trials. Members of the public obviously knew it had happened, and then 12 of those members of the public ended up on the second jury. I’ve always wondered if some social change had actually occurred. Whether that second jury had been affected by what happened in Ferguson, and they did look at racial bias in a different way and thought, “This isn’t self defense.” I could never prove that, but I like to think that sometimes.

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3.5 Minutes, 10 Bullets, and 1 Racially Charged Tragedy

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The NBA Just Hit Donald Sterling With a Lifetime Ban

Mother Jones

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The NBA is no longer OK with awful racist Donald Sterling’s awful racism.

Commissioner Adam Silver just announced that the Los Angeles Clippers owner has been banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million. Sterling will be banned from all basketball operations and from attending any NBA games.

Further, Silver said he will be urging the NBA Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the franchise.

Two-and-a-half million is the largest fine allowed by under the NBA’s constitution but, as Mother Jones‘ Ian Gordon points out, it’s really just pocket change for him.

“The discipline issued today is based on the Commissioner’s conclusion that Mr. Sterling violated league rules through his expressions of offensive and hurtful views, the impact of which has been widely felt though out the league,” the NBA said in a statement.

The announcement was immediately hailed by league players. The Clippers website right now:

This post has been updated.

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The NBA Just Hit Donald Sterling With a Lifetime Ban

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