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Petr Svab

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Republicans could flip six congressional seats in California in November, based on primary results. Four additional seats are enough to make GOP candidates competitive.

Democrats, on the other hand, don’t seem to have an easy path open to even one seat currently held by a Republican.

California as a whole leans left, with Democrats holding 45 of the 53 congressional districts (two are vacant). The March 3 primary results, however, suggest the GOP may heal its losses from the 2018 midterms, where Democrats flipped seven seats.

The state holds “jungle primaries,” which means both Democrats and Republicans show up on the same ballot, and the two candidates with the most votes face each other in the general election.

Voters who didn’t get their primary pick could still be generally expected to go for the winning candidate of their party. Thus, by adding up the votes for all Democrats and all Republicans on the ballot, one can get a rough idea of how many voters may show up for the candidate of each party in the general election.

In addition, there was only one statewide measure on the ballot this time—one for bonds to fund public school facilities (voted down). That means Democrats may have had a stronger motivation to show up, since they were deciding on their presidential candidate, while the Republican presidential primary was a largely symbolic exercise of confirming President Donald Trump as the nominee of choice. Trump received 92.5 percent of the vote.

District 10

The 10th district, spanning northern San Joaquin Valley east of San Jose, flipped blue in 2018, but seems ready to swing back. The incumbent, Josh Harder, won the primary with 39.8 percent, while the GOP frontrunner, Ted Howze, finished with 37.5 percent. However, when adding the votes for all the Democrats on the ballot, they garnered less than 45 percent of the vote. Republicans claimed the majority with 55.

District 21

The 21st district, just south of the 10th, is a similar story. Democrat T.J. Cox unseated incumbent Republican David Valadao in 2018. But Valadao came back and won the March 3 primary with 53.1 percent. Cox only scored 36.1 percent while 8.3 percent went to the other Democrat on the ticket, Ricardo De La Fuente. There was a second Republican in the race as well, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, who scored 2.5 percent.

District 25

A bit further south lies the 25th district, offering a crowded primary of six Democrats, six Republicans, and one independent competing for the seat vacated by Katie Hill—the Democrat who flipped the seat in 2018, but resigned in November amid an ethics probe after photos were leaked to the media of her intimate relations with a former campaign staffer.

Some names of media prominence also joined the race: George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign aide implicated in the Russia investigation, and Cenk Uygur, co-founder of the progressive news and opinion show “The Young Turks.”

In the end, Democrat Christy Smith finished first with 29.8 percent of the vote. She will face off with Republican Mike Garcia, who garnered 24.6 percent. When all the votes are added up, Republicans received 52 percent and Democrats 46.5 percent.

District 39

The 39th district covers about a dozen neighborhoods east of Los Angeles. After the 2018 retirement of Republican Rep. Ed Royce, Democrat Gil Cisneros narrowly won it in the midterm race against Republican Young Kim. Kim came back on March 3 to win the primary with 50.7 percent against Cisneros’s 44.4 percent. Independent Steve Cox garnered 4.9 percent.

District 45

The 45th district in Orange County is also among those flipped blue in 2018. The incumbent, Democrat Katie Porter, easily won the primary with 48.5 percent over Republican Greg Raths’s 18.8 percent. But the GOP vote was split among six contenders; added up, they had 51.5 percent.

District 48

The 48th district, also in Orange County, stretches along the coast south of Los Angeles. Democrat Harley Rouda won it in 2018, unseating veteran GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. Rouda led the primary with 44 percent. The Republican vote was split among four candidates, with Michelle Steel getting the most at 36.6 percent. Added up, Republicans had 53.3 percent.

Close Races

In the 7th, 9th, 24th, and 49th districts, Democrats received majorities, but narrow ones, spanning from 53.5 percent in the 9th to 52.1 in the 7th.

Author: Petr Svab

Source: The Epoch Times: Primary Results Indicate Republicans Could Flip 6 California Districts

President Donald Trump drew attention to research that shows the sway Google holds over election results, after a former engineer for the company came forward with a pile of internal documents that suggest political interference.

“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Trump wrote on Aug. 19. “This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”

Trump was most likely referring to the work of Robert Epstein, a research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California, who’s studied for years about how much influence Google has on its users’ political views and voting.

In a Feb. 18, 2016, essay, Epstein said that Google had “the power to drive between 2.6 million and 10.4 million votes to Clinton on Election Day, with no one knowing that this is occurring and without leaving a paper trail.”

Based on his monitoring of Google search results on Election Day 2016 and in the weeks prior, Epstein determined that there was indeed a pro-Clinton bias in the results and that 2.6 million votes were shifted. He said he personally supported Clinton in the race.

A Google executive told Congress in July that the company’s products are designed and operated to be politically neutral.

Criticism

While Google previously criticized Epstein’s research as “flawed,” Epstein responded by saying Google failed to rebut his arguments in substance. He’s been told that Google has spread messaging to the effect that his study was based on 21 undecided voters.

“That is not true,” he told The Epoch Times.

The study was based on more than 13,000 searches preserved from 95 field agents in 24 states. Of those, 21 agents identified themselves as undecided voters, but that was irrelevant to the results, since the search terms prepared for the study were determined by an independent group of raters as neutral, he said. Political preferences of the agents thus had no effect on what they typed into Google. Furthermore, the results proved significant in statistical analysis, indicating that the number of agents didn’t undermine them.

“The probability that we got our results based on chance alone was less than one in a thousand,” Epstein said.

The study built on experiments with “tens of thousands of participants in five national elections in four countries,” he said, that showed Google’s power to sway undecided voters by giving more or less prominence to search results favorable to different candidates.

Epstein said he didn’t know why Trump referred to 16 million in his tweet.

“I’ve never said that.”

He said the broad range of his estimate—2.6 million to 10.4 million votes shifted to Clinton—was due to there being ways for Google to “increase the magnitude of the effects” it had on voters by, for instance, targeting certain voters or by voters exposing themselves to the biased results multiple times.

Trump’s tweet also included a reference to the Twitter account of Judicial Watch, a right-leaning government watchdog.

“We interpret President Trump’s tweet as encouragement that Judicial Watch investigate this issue as part of our Election Integrity Project,” Judicial Watch spokeswoman Jill Farrell told The Epoch Times via email.

Leaked Documents

Epstein’s research has been recently highlighted because of his congressional testimony on July 16. In recent days, he’s offered comments and analysis on the nearly 1,000 pages of internal documents released on Aug. 14 by former Google software engineer Zachary Vorhies.

In an Aug. 14 interview with Breitbart Radio, Epstein claimed that Google executives have committed perjury by telling Congress the company doesn’t “rerank” search results and doesn’t have blacklists.

Epstein pointed out that the trove of leaked documents includes two blacklists. One of the lists, marked as “manual”—meaning made by humans—contains a number of fringe political websites, of which most appear to lean right. It also includes some mainstream conservative-leaning websites such as dailycaller.com, and news watchdog newsbusters.org.

The blacklist indicates the sites are blocked from the feed that shows up below the search bar in the Google mobile app.

The list marks many of the sites as having a “high user block rate.” It’s not clear why these sites would need to be blacklisted manually if a high block rate alone automatically placed them on the list.

Epstein also noted that one of the leaked documents describes how to create a “twiddler”—a program that tweaks search results by, for example, pushing certain results up and others down, based on criteria specified by the programmer.

“They literally rerank search results to meet their ever-changing needs, and some of those needs are political needs,” Epstein said.

The documents that Vorhies provided, together with his explanations and hidden camera recordings by Project Veritas of other Google employees, indicate that the company has created a concept of “algorithmic fairness,” through which it infuses the political preferences of its mostly left-leaning workforce into its products.

Several studies have shown that the Google News product is biased to the left.

Epstein warned that in 2020, if companies such as Google and Facebook all support the same candidate, they will be able to shift 15 million votes—a margin surpassed by only a handful of presidents.

Update: The article has been updated with information from an interview with Robert Epstein, with further information about President Donald Trump’s tweet, and with a response from Judicial Watch.

Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab

Author: Petr Svab

Source: The Epoch Times: Trump Highlights Research Showing Google Shifted Millions of Votes to Clinton in 2016

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