Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.


November 2018

Some articles I found interesting this morning

John Moore/Getty Images photo at The Washington Post. Caption: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents take part in a training exercise at the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday in Hidalgo, Tex.”

(Even more here)

November 5, 2018

Western Hemisphere Regional

  • Paul Sonne, Trump’s Border Deployments Could Cost $200 Million by Year-End (The Washington Post, November 5, 2018).

    The total price of President Trump’s military deployment to the border, including the cost of National Guard forces that have been there since April, could climb well above $200?million by the end of 2018 and grow significantly

Bolivia, Peru

Central America Regional, Mexico


  • Ramiro Bejarano Guzman, El Peor Remedio (El Espectador (Colombia), November 5, 2018).

    Estos 14 nuevos magistrados quedarían estratégicamente distribuidos en las demás salas de la JEP, como quintacolumnistas o caballo de Troya

  • Rodrigo Uprimny, Reforma a la Jep y Pacto por la Paz (El Espectador (Colombia), November 5, 2018).

    Este proyecto malo e inconstitucional podría tener efectos positivos si hace parte de un pacto público y serio de todas las fuerzas políticas, incluida la FARC, para implementar, con ajustes que no toquen su esencia, el Acuerdo de Paz

Colombia, Venezuela


My pessimistic (or perhaps realistic) House spreadsheet

I hesitate to share this because it reveals how unhinged the midterm elections have made me. But here’s a spreadsheet of 70 House districts that could conceivably go either way in tomorrow’s vote.

To win a majority of the House of Representatives, Democrats will have to carry 33 of these 70. Nearly half. That is, they need to hold the ten Democrat-held districts listed here, and take 23 more.

After an unhealthily obsessive study of polls and coverage, I’ve given each of the 70 districts a score.

  • If it looks like a likely Democratic pickup, it gets a 1.
  • If it’s too close to call but I think it’s a plausible Democratic win, it gets a 0.5. That way, every two “plausible” districts equals one Democratic pickup.
  • If it’s a longshot, it gets a 0.
  • If it’s close but there’s a plausible chance that a Democratic seat could flip Republican, it’s a -0.5.
  • If the Democrat is likely to lose, it’s a -1 (that’s Radinovich’s seat in Minnesota, and a result of court-ordered redistricting in Pennsylvania-14).

I’ll update this through election night. But as of 5:00PM on Monday the 6th, I see the Democratic Party just barely squeaking by with a net gain of 23 seats, giving them a bare 218-217 majority:

You may score these districts more optimistically than I do. But I’ve been burned before, and by my reckoning, the Democrats will just barely make it.

Most analysts seem to be expecting the Democrats to pick up about 35 seats. (I’m closer to the RealClearPolitics map, which predicts a 26.5 seat Democratic pickup, for a 221.5-213.5 majority.) Sorry, but I just don’t see 35 seats.

There’s no wiggle room. This spreadsheet explains why I’m feeling pretty anxious about the Trump administration being subjected to any meaningful oversight and accountability over the next two years.

If I’m wrong and it’s a blowout, I’ll be delighted to admit how cracked my crystal ball is on Wednesday.

The day ahead: November 2, 2018

I’ll be reachable in the afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got an internal meeting in the morning and a lunchtime meeting with a Senate staffer. Otherwise I’m writing: trying to finish a huge Colombia report and getting a start on a memo for a funder. I plan to work at home in the afternoon.

The day ahead: November 1, 2018

I’ll be reachable in the late afternoon. (How to contact me)

I’ve got a meeting and two interviews lined up this morning. I’m spending the first half of the afternoon at the University of Maryland with a group of students who are collaborating on a research project about the use of military personnel as police in the Americas. I’ll spend the latter part of the afternoon working at home, catching up on the news and on a big report about Colombia that is so close to being done.

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