March 15, 2016

Late-Blogging Tuesday’s Primaries: Trump Taking FL, IL, NC and Probably MO; Kasich Takes OH; Clinton Takes FL, NC, OH, IL; Sanders Holding on for Dear Life Trailing Slightly in MO; Press Calls MO For Trump and Clinton

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:13 pm

Had other commitments tonight, so let’s catch up real quickly, because it’s apparently mostly decided.

GOP Presidential:

  • Trump takes FL in a crushing win. Trump-Rubio-Cruz-Kasich 46-27-17-7.
  • Kasich takes OH by more than I would have guessed, and Cruz disappointed. Kasich-Trump-Cruz-Rubio (46-36-14-2). Update: I think the reading here has to be that Rubio’s voters followed their candidate’s orders and voted for Kasich. If he hadn’t done that, it would have been far, far closer, and maybe even a Trump victory.
  • Trump takes IL. Trump-Cruz-Kasich-Rubio, 39-30-19-9. 68 percent is in, and the positions won’t change.
  • Trump takes NC. Cruz made it semi-close, but not close enough. Trump-Cruz-Kasich-Rubio, 41-37-13-8.
  • Trump has a small 3,000-vote lead in MO over Cruz (42-41, with 99 percent counted, but it looks like he’ll hold on. Kasich and Rubio are in single digits. Update: Trump’s lead has narrowed to 2,500 votes, but a very imprecise estimate is that Cruz has to take 2/3 of the remaining Trump or Cruz votes to catch up. Cruz’s prospects are grim. Update, 12:55 a.m.: The press has called Trump the “apparent winner” in MO. That call appears to be correct. Scratch that. Trump’s leads is only 1,636 votes out 920,000 ballots cast. Cruz shouldn’t concede until the provisional ballots are counted and should consider asking for a full recount.

Dem Presidential:

  • Sanders has a 3-point lead in MO with 66 percent counted. Too close to call. Update: With 85 percent counted, Sanders’ lead is 3 points and 12,000 votes. Clinton needs to win 57 percent of the remainder. Depending on which ballots haven’t been counted, that’S not impossible, but seems quite unlikely. Update, 12:10 a.m.: Clinton has trimmed the MO margin to 5,000 votes with 94 percent counted. The guess here is that Metro St. Louis is giving her a chance at a comeback. But to be clear, she has to replicate what just happened between 90 percent and 94 percent counted in all of the remaining votes. That’s a tall but not impossible mountain to climb. Update, 12:29 a.m.: Now the margin is 2,100 votes with 98 percent counted. Clinton still has to win about 58 percent of the remaining votes, but she’s done that ever since the 90 percent mark. 12:48 a.m.: Clinton now has an 1,100-vote lead, and I’m guessing (not concluding) based on how the last 10 percent of the counting has gone that it will be insurmountable. But, if the margin stays within 1,500 votes, I believe Sanders should NOT concede until all provisional ballots have been counted, and should consider demanding a recount if the provisional ballots narrow the margin below 1,000. Update, 12:57 a.m.: The press has called Clinton the “apparent winner” in MO. The margin is 1,531 votes. Your call, Bernie.
  • Clinton swamps Sanders in FL, 64-33.
  • Sanders wanted and needed OH badly. He didn’t get it. Clinton wins, 56-43.
  • Clinton wins NC, 55-41.
  • Clinton has a 3-point lead in IL with 82 percent counted. I don’t think Sanders can make up the margin. Update: With 89 percent counted, Sanders has to win 60 percent of the remaining votes to make up a 40,000-vote deficit. His prospects are bleak. Update: But one detailed map I saw said that Cook County hasn’t been counted AT ALL, which would mean that far less than 92 percent of the state has been counted. Update, 12:15 a.m.: With 95 percent (cough, cough) counted, Sanders has cut the vote deficit to about 35,000, but he has to win over two-thirds of the remaining votes. On the verge of calling it for Clinton. Update, 12:31 a.m.: The press has called IL for Clinton, and it’s a proper call.

OVERALL — Definitely big nights for Trump and Clinton, but despite the headlines, I’m not convinced that either has clinched the nomination. Will look at delegate counts when they’re more sorted out in the morning.

Other items of interest:

  • In case anyone cares, I voted “anyone but Portman” in the GOP U.S. Senate race. Of course, Portman cruised to victory, 83-17.
  • On the Democratic side, Strickland cruised to victory over Sittenfeld, 65-22.
  • In a key Ohio State Rep’s race, the contest between Tom Brinkman and Heidi Huber is too close to call. Brinkman is ahead, but 500 votes separate the two candidates with 91 percent of the votes counted. About 2,000 votes haven’t come in. Depending on where those votes are from, this race may not be over. Update: Brinkman, with only 2 precincts remaining to be counted, has a 359-vote lead, and has held on. Upate, 12:22 a.m.: To be clear, the odds are overwhelming that Brinkman won, but Huber should NOT concede until all provisional ballots have been counted and there has been a full recount.
  • In the contest for John Boehner’s old 8th District seat in Congress, Warren Davidson has won the primary. He will face Democrat Corey Foister in November.

AP’s Rugaber, As Retail Sales Fall: American Are ‘Reluctant to Open Their Wallets’

Today’s report from the government on February’s retail sales was awful. Last month’s sales fell by 0.1 percent, which was bad enough. Beyond that, January’s originally reported 0.2 percent increase was revised down to a 0.4 percent decrease. Additionally, as I noted at my home blog this morning, January’s seasonally adjusted revision should have been much worse, based on how terrible that month’s raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) sales figure was.

In his dispatch following the Census Bureau’s release, the Associated Press’s Christopher Rugaber recognized the fall in sales as a problem; but as he sees it, consumers have money, and just aren’t spending it. The hardly subtle implication is that if the economy struggles, it will be due to our collective failure to engage in profligate spending.

(more…)

February 2016 Retail Sales: Seasonally Adjusted -0.1 Pct.; January Revised From +0.2 Pct. to -0.4 Pct. (Raw Jan. Data Is Far Worse)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:20 am

Predictions are for a seasonally adjusted decline of 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent, down from January’s 0.2 percent increase.

Last month’s report was marred by far too generous seasonal adjustments, where “January’s Raw Sales Should Have Led to a Big SA Decline.” In a normal world, which we are sadly not in, that would lead one to think that we’re in for a correction.

The report will be accessible from this Census Bureau page at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS — Well, the seasonally adjusted correction I expected was done in the revision to January, but it’s still misleadingly better than the underlying reality:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for February, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $447.3 billion, a decrease of 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 3.1 percent (±0.7%) above February 2015. Total sales for the December 2015 through February 2016 period were up 2.9 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The December 2015 to January 2016 percent change was revised from up 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* to down 0.4 percent (±0.3%).

Retail trade sales were down 0.3 percent (±0.5%)* from January 2016, and up 2.7 percent (±0.5%) from last year. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 12.2 percent (±2.5%) from February 2015, while gasoline stations were down 15.6 percent (±1.6%) from last year.

Imagine that. January went from +0.2 percent to -0.4 percent. As noted last month, and still true after today’s revision, that’s still a far too generous seasonal conversion:

RetailSalesJan2013to2016vsPrevDecRev

One could easily justify a one-month seasonally adjusted decline of 2.5 percent or more based on the results of the past three years.

So how are two months of negative retail sales going to turn into 2 percent-plus GDP growth in the first quarter?

UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.: Seasonally adjusted retail sales are up a paltry 0.05 percent ($447.308 billion in February vs. $447.097 billion in August) in the past six months.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (031516)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: 40 Days for Life Sees 265 Moms Change Their Mind on Abortion

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Austin, Texas, and elsewhere:

MAR 7, 2016 10:28AM

So far during this 40 Days for Life campaign, we have reports of… 265 babies spared from abortion. And those are just the ones we know of!

We start today in the Lone Star State of Texas …

Austin, Texas

A counselor in Austin talked to a couple as they left the abortion center. They’d been there for a sonogram appointment – that’s required 24 hours prior to an abortion.

The mother did not want the abortion … but her boyfriend did. And she thought she would be unable to continue the pregnancy without his support.

“Thankfully,” said Heather in Austin, “the counselor had a brochure showing the stages of development of the unborn child. They couldn’t believe it!”

That really got the boyfriend’s attention. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea!”

They quickly called the pregnancy help center … and canceled the abortion!

Heather tells of another woman who was in the abortion facility’s waiting room. She was unsure about her decision. As she looked out the window, she saw that a large tree branch had fallen on her car!

“This was a sign that this was NOT the right choice,” Heather said. “She left and went straight to the pregnancy center, where she saw her baby on a sonogram. She chose life! God is good!” …

Go here for the rest of the story.