hot hot heat

Nicco Mele
5 min readAug 8, 2020

86 days to go. This morning when I went out to walk the dog, it was downright chilly. It’s getting colder, at least up here in deep blue Massachusetts… but the election season hasn’t even begun to warm up, and once it gets going it is going to be on fire.

But before I get to that delicious doomsday decadence, I want to revisit my prior pronouncements:

  • Ignore the polls. A recent twitter thread by a noted statistician points out that (1) “election polls contain a lot less evidence than indicated by their sample sizes”, (2) “the real-world margin of error is about twice its theoretical margin of error”, and (3) “there’s hardly any historical data to extrapolate from”. I’d add that this particular election is completely unprecedented — from the vagaries of pandemic turn-out to the machinations of “the Trump”, we’re unmoored. Maybe we should just ban election polling — not only are they complicated and uncertain, but they influence people’s behavior in ways I think are bad. What if we just focused on the issues and the candidates, not who’s winning? That’s madness, I tell you, madness!
  • Expect more racism and anti-semitism. I printed some stickers to remind me to be vigilant in fighting hate — back story here — and if you want some, fill out this form and I’ll mail them to you.
  • Do something. Today’s email is mostly about all the scary stuff that might go wrong. But we — yes, YOU! — actually have the power to keep stuff from going too crazy. So get involved, especially in your own community. It will not only help this election have integrity but you’ll learn a lot about where you live and build greater resiliency in your own neighborhood.

For those of you who have known me for a while, you know that while I’m an enthusiast about all sorts of things, I have a pretty grim view of the future. For the last four years, I have regularly shared on social media my “Rule 1”: It Will Get Crazier. I just don’t see any incentives for anyone in charge to behave.

And then there is my 2013 book, The End of Big, where I make the big claim on page 3 that the U.S. Government is effectively a failed government, you just couldn’t see it yet.** Well, I think you can see it now — from the screwed up elections we’ve already had this year (remember Iowa, Wisconsin, Georgia, New York, and that’s not all), to the failed response to the pandemic (Don’t worry; Americans are still welcome in Albania, Cambodia, Ethiopia, North Macedonia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Brexit UK…

Nicco Mele

formerly of @LATimes & @Kennedy_School - author of The End of Big - lots more at — Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.