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A Poet Gives You Some Gentle Advice For Autumn, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Caitlin Conlon Updated September 29, 2019 By Lisa Fotios ARIES: You grew out of […]

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2019 special elections haven’t been as good for Democrats

(CNN)The supposed smart take from the special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District is that Republican Dan Bishop underperformed compared to President Donald Trump’s 2016 performance in the district. Bishop won by 2 points while Trump won by 12 points, which is supposed to indicate that the national political environment still leans Democratic.

When we do that, we see the results of the special elections that have taken place after the 2018 midterms — when Democrats took back the House — aren’t anywhere near as good for Democrats as those that occurred in the time period after Trump’s election in 2016 and the midterms.
Last night, for example, there was another less spoken about special election in North Carolina’s 3rd congressional district. Republican Greg Murphy won by 24 points. That was a district in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 24 points too. In other words, there was no Democratic overperformance (or Republican underperformance) in that race versus the 2016 baseline.
    Earlier this year, there was a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. This special election result looked a lot like what happened in North Carolina’s 3rd District and not its 9th. Republican Fred Keller’s 36-point win matched well with Trump’s 36-point win in the district.
    When you average across the three congressional special elections this year, you see the Democrats are outperforming their 2016 presidential baseline by less than 5 points. In the 11 special congressional special elections between the start of Trump’s presidency in 2017 and the 2018 midterms, they were outperforming their baseline by 12 points.
    It would be easy to say that no one cared about North Carolina’s 3rd or Pennsylvania’s 12th District special election. These races were never thought of as competitive, and the turnout was low.
    However, I’d pushed back heavily against that concept. There were a number of special elections last cycle (e.g. Kansas’s 4th and South Carolina’s 5th) which weren’t supposed to be competitive and were low turnout affairs. In both cases, Democrats outperformed the 2016 presidential baseline by double-digits.
    The trend in the state legislative special elections look like the trend in the congressional special elections, too. Democrats are outperforming their baseline on the state legislative level as they are in congressional specials, but not anywhere to the degree that they were during the 2017 to 2018 period.
    Now, you could argue that we still have a small sample size of only three congressional special elections this year. That’s true, and it’s a good point. While state legislative elections are an additive point, I’d really like to see more congressional special elections if we’re going to make anything close to a definitive statement about what they’re telling us.
    Furthermore, you could point out that special elections in the lead up to presidential elections aren’t as predictive of those as special elections are in the lead up to a midterm. As I noted on Monday, the congressional special elections in 2015 and 2016 weren’t predictive at all of what happened in 2016’s presidential election.
      Indeed, other indicators do not suggests Republicans aren’t in any better position than they were last year. Trump is still quite unpopular. He trails his potential Democratic opponents in hypothetical matchups. Additionally, more Americans are worried about the future of the economy than previously.
      Overall, Trump’s re-election hopes are still not great, and the special elections this year haven’t been bad news for Democrats. I’m just not sure I’d really use special elections to argue Trump is in danger, when looking at this year’s special elections in their totality.

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      I hope Apple Arcade makes room for weird, cool shit

      Apple Arcade seems purpose-built to make room in the market for beautiful, sad, weird, moving, slow, clever and heartfelt. All things that the action, shooter and MOBA-driven major market of games has done nothing to foster over the last decade.

      I had a chance to play a bunch of the titles coming to Apple Arcade, which launched today in a surprise move for some early testers of iOS 13. Nearly every game I played was fun, all were gorgeous and some were really, really great.

      A few I really enjoyed, in no particular order:


      Where Cards Fall — A Snowman game from Sam Rosenthal. A beautiful game with a clever card-based mechanic that allows room for story moments and a ramping difficulty level that should be fantastic for short play sessions. Shades of Monument Valley, of course, in its puzzle + story interleave and in its willingness to get super emotional about things right away. More of this in gaming! Super satisfying gameplay and crisp animations abound.


      Overland — Finji — Overland is one of my most anticipated games from the bunch, I’ve been following the development of this game from the Night in the Woods and Canabalt creators for a long time. It does not disappoint, with a stylized but somehow hyper-realized post apocalyptic turn-based system that transmits urgency through economy of movement. Every act you take counts. Given that it’s a roguelike, the story is told through the world rather than through an individual character’s narrative and the world does a great job of it.


      Oceanhorn 2 — Cornfox & Brothers — The closest to a native Zelda you’ll get on iOS — this plays great on a controller. Do yourself a favor and try it that way.


      Spek — RAC7 — One of those puzzle games people will plow through, it makes the mechanics simple to understand, then begins to really push and prod at your mastery of them over time. The AR component of the app seems like it will be a better party game than solo experience, but the effects used here are great and it really plays with distance and perspective in a way that an AR game should. A good totem for the genre going forward.

      I was able to play several of the games across all three platforms, including Apple TV with an Xbox controller, iPhone and iPad. While some favored controller (Skate City) and others touch controls (Super Impossible Road), all felt like I could play them either way without much difficulty.

      There are also some surprises in the initial batch of games, like Lego Brawls — a Smash Brothers clone that will be a big hit for car rides and get-togethers, I think.

      My hope is that the Apple Arcade advantage, an aggressive $4.99 price and prime placement in the App Store, may help create an umbrella of sorts for games that don’t fit the “big opening weekend” revenue mold, and I hope Apple leans into that. I know that there may be action-oriented and big-name titles in the package now and in the future, and that’s fine. But there are many kinds of games out there that are fantastic, but “minor” in the grand scheme of things, and having a place that could create sustainability in the market for these gems is a great thing.

      The financial terms were not disclosed by Apple, but many of the developers appear to have gotten upfront money to make games for the platform and, doubtless, there is a rev share on some sort of basis, probably usage or installs. Whatever it is, I hope the focus is on sustainability, but the people responsible for Arcade inside Apple are making all the right noises about that, so I have hope.

      I am especially glad that Apple is being aggressive with the pricing and with the restrictions it has set for the store, including no in-app purchases or ads. This creates an environment where a parent (ratings permitting) can be confident that a kid playing games from the Arcade tab will not be besieged with casino ads in the middle of their puzzle game.

      There is, however, a general irony in the fact that Apple had to create Apple Arcade because of the proliferation of loot box/currency/in-app purchase revenue models. An economy driven by the App Store’s overall depressive effect on the price of games and the decade long acclimation people have had to spending less and less, down to free, for games and apps on the store.

      By bundling them into a subscription, Apple sidesteps the individual purchase barrier that it has had a big hand in creating in the first place. While I don’t think it is fully to blame — plenty of other platforms aggressively promote loot box mechanics — a big chunk of the responsibility to fix this distortion does rest on Apple. Apple Arcade is a great stab at that and I hope that the early titles are an indicator of the overall variety and quality that we can expect.

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