by Capt. Seth Keshel
Your mother, a lifelong Democrat, although admittedly influenced by what she reads in the papers and hears from her friends, is finally complaining about everyday life in 2022. She just returned from the store, where she paid way more than usual for the basics, just before she pumped $5.50 per gallon gasoline on the drive home.
“Mom, I told you stolen elections have consequences,” you reply. Though she has tried to dodge the conversation for over a year, she finally gives you the opportunity, saying, “I keep hearing you say that, but how can you be so sure? I heard it was the most secure election ever.” In this moment, you either know and respond with the straight facts, or you fail to change a mind when presented a golden opportunity.
Fortunately, 10 Irrefutable Points of the 2020 Election, all of which demand investigation, were presented by yours truly at the Sioux Falls Cyber Symposium last August. The very first point tells the curious tale of how the incumbent President carried the national bellwether counties that had been perfect for four decades, but somehow managed to lose reelection.
The media’s response is to impart that the bellwethers are not predictive, and that urban areas went so overwhelmingly for a senile political retread that these longtime indicators, along with many others, are no longer valid. They fail to convey that there are so many deviations from historical consistency that demand investigation into nearly every aspect of the 2020 election.
The term “bellwether,” though a political term today, comes from England, and refers to a bell hung around the neck of a ram leading a flock of sheep. A shepherd listening for the bell will know the location and direction of the entire flock no matter where he is standing. Refer to the map below for a listing of the 19 counties that have aligned perfectly with our presidential winners since 1980.
There is no hard and fast rule that bellwethers are, by default, won by the winner of presidential elections. In fact, bellwethers can die off due to a serious overhaul of the economic environment, or from changing demographics (economic or ethnic). If Van Buren County, Michigan, were to be flooded with new residents leaving Grand Rapids, it would become more affluent, college-educated, and moderate in its political views. It could distort its natural political characteristics within a couple cycles, causing it to lose bellwether status.
Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, and Trump in 2016 carried all 19 of the bellwether counties depicted above. Most of these counties are in the northeast or the industrial Midwest, and are loaded with non-college white voters, which has long been the largest segment of the American electorate. Donald Trump’s winning coalition in 2016 was the non-college white voters, particularly two-time Obama voters, who changed over and voted for him in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa, and nearly flipped Minnesota. Theoretically, a legitimate Trump loss in 2020 would have occured if he were unable to hold those non-college voters, whose political concerns are rooted in the retention of industry and in sound trade policies, rather than in feelings, virtue signaling, and strategic placement of a Whole Foods on every corner. His victories in the bellwether counties, with enormous gains in total votes from 2016, suggest that he had even more traction with this demographic than in 2016, making his losses in Pennsylvania and Michigan obviously abnormal and inorganic.
Valencia County, New Mexico, and Vigo County, Indiana, had been perfect in aligning with the winners since 1952 and 1956, respectively. Sure, bellwethers can die off, but are 18 of 19 bellwethers (Clallam County, Washington, supposedly went to Biden, but died an unnatural death due to filthy voter rolled combined with a lethal cocktail of mail-in voting and ballot harvesting) truly going to fail in the same election, with party registration numbers favoring Trump’s reelection in every battleground but Arizona (and now we know there are issues with how voters are being registered).
When discussing the failure of the perfect bellwether counties, ask the one you are educating why the key voting populations in the states everyone agrees would decide the election (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin) went so heavily for Trump, but failed to hold down states that have been trending heavily Republican for a decade. Bellwethers may not indicate “causation,” but they absolutely track with the sentiment of working-class voters in extremely tight correlation, and have for many decades.