The Phony Campaign

2023-07-30 Update

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It's been quite a while since our last phony campaign update. And during that time, Google seems to have removed one bit of information we were relying on: its estimate of the number of results returned by a search query: "About N results", it confidently displayed.

So my cute idea (when I started doing this sixteen years ago) was to use this as a proxy for the crowdsourced wisdom of the Internet to judge the perceived inauthenticity of each of the current crop of presidential candidates.

It was fun while it lasted. And there may be some way to tease those result counts out of Google again. Just not one that I'm willing to spend any time digging up. And we've known for a long time that those numbers were bogus anyway.

So we continue without Google result counts. We'll still keep the links to Google's results in our table, though:

Candidate EBO Win
Joe Biden 34.7% -1.9%
Donald Trump 28.4% +1.5%
Robert Kennedy Jr 6.2% +1.7%
Gavin Newsom 5.7% ---
Ron DeSantis 5.3% -8.8%
Vivek Ramaswamy 4.1% ---
Michelle Obama 2.8% +0.1%
Kamala Harris 2.3% unch
Other 10.5% -2.4%

In the past six weeks, Gavin Newsom is seen (once again) as breaking above our 2% probability threshold (as calculated by the Lott/Stossel Election Betting Odds site). Also showing up is Vivek Ramaswamy, with a respectable 4.1% probability of taking the oath of office on January 20, 2025.

And—wow—the election punters have really cratered Ron DeSantis's odds.

And (just as a reminder) everyone in our table is doing better than our girl, Nikki Haley. Sigh.

Just a small sample of recent phony news:

  • He should not even pretend to be surprised. The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports: DeSantis says Harris is spreading 'phony narratives' on Florida Black history curriculum.

    Earlier in July, the vice president said Florida’s new history curriculum standards will mean students are “to be told that enslaved people benefited from slavery.” Harris said Republican politicians are trying to divide the country and push “revisionist” history on American children.

    “What they are doing is they are creating these unnecessary debates,” Harris said in Florida. “This is unnecessary to debate whether enslaved people benefited from slavery. Are you kidding me? Are we supposed to debate that?”

    DeSantis disagreed with Harris’ characterization. He told reporters the country has “seen this Kamala Harris lie exposed about Florida’s high school curriculums.”

    Harris and others, including U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Black Florida Republican, specifically took issue with language in the new standards that calls for instruction on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

    DeSantis said the provision is meant to show that some enslaved people developed skills “in spite of slavery, not because of slavery.” He said this perspective is also included in the standards of the Advanced Placement African American studies course that Harris supported.

    The news media had (and has) no problem about labeling Donald Trump's assertions about the 2020 election as "lies". They should easily be able to do the same for Kamala.

  • It's as natural to him as breathing. But President Bone Spurs doesn't just lie about the election he lost. The WaPo "fact checker" notes a recent fantasy on a different topic: Trump conjures up a phony dispute with Ron DeSantis over China tariffs.

    “‘DeSanctis’ opposed my China tariffs — the ones where I gave you $28 billion, by the way. That was just a small portion of what we took in — we took in hundreds of billions of dollars from China. … Very simply, ‘DeSanctis’ sided with the communists in China. I sided with the farmers of America.”

    — Former president Donald Trump, campaigning in Council Bluffs, Iowa, July 7

    We'll leave alone the ex-presidential bragging (in Iowa) about how much money he gave farmers. The article notes that that short quote contains "a mix of questionable, exaggerated and made-up elements." An incomplete list:

    • Only ("only") about $23 billion went to farmers. And about $800 million of that was "improper".
    • Tariffs were not extracted "from China". That's not how they work: That money came from American taxpayers (importers and their customers).
    • When Trump left office, the tariffs had generated $75 billion, not exactly "hundreds of billions".
    • Since Biden left the tariffs in place, they've generated a total of about $183 billion.
    • Which is, again, money paid by Americans.
  • A handy guide. Gadzooks, the EBO site has RFK Jr. with a better chance of becoming president than DeSantis! In case you haven't been keeping score, Here Are All The Conspiracies RFK Jr. Promotes. as compiled by Sara Dorn of Forbes. Summary: It's a rat's nest of crazy. But here's a fun fact from later on in the article:

    Ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey expressed support for Kennedy Jr. over the weekend by retweeting a video of him saying he could beat Biden, captioned: “He can and he will.”

    I suppose if you could be vaccinated against conspiracy theories,… Well, no. Some conspiracy theories are true.

  • Tackling the tough rumors. Michelle Obama hangs on to a decent probability of winning the presidency, especially when you consider she's expressed no desire to run, and isn't particularly qualified. But Politifact makes the call on a nasty rumor anyway: Michelle Obama was never a man. Among the disconfirming evidence cited:

    She was born Michelle LaVaughn Robinson in January 1964 and gave birth to two daughters.

    Ah, but if she identified as a man… Politifact does not deal with this issue of gender ideology.

Last Modified 2024-05-17 6:54 AM EDT