Tag Archives: Barack Obama


Take a deep breath and let it sink in.



Against complacency


That’s a lot of people turning out to see Barack Obama. In Missouri, no less.

Can someone remind me, Does Sarah Palin consider Missouri one of the“pro-America areas of this great nation”? Maybe she would argue that St. Louis doesn’t count, because it isn’t one of “these small towns that we get to visit…these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America.”

Powell to endorse Obama?

That’s the rumor du jour, and Lawrence O’Donnell for some reason thinks it is “beyond doubt” that he’ll do it (because Powell is so inclined to stick his neck out or make waves, right? Sure, whatever you say, Larry…). Tomorrow would be a dandy day to do it, in my opinion, especially if McCain has any decent press coming out of tonight’s debate…

Good news for Democrats in early voting?

Despite all the polls favorable to Obama recently, I’m determined to prepare myself for the worst: I don’t really trust the polls this year, and there are still three weeks until election day, and you never know what kind of voter suppression or voting machine manipulation Republicans might accomplish. With those credentials as a determined pessimist established, I have to say that this post at fiverthirtyeight.com heartens me more than any poll numbers I’ve seen:

SurveyUSA has a lot of good habits as a pollster, and one of them is breaking out the results of early and absentee voting in states where such things are allowed. So far, SurveyUSA has conducted polling in five states where some form of early voting was underway. In each one, Barack Obama is doing profoundly better among early voters than among the state’s electorate as a whole:

...    Poll    % Voted                  Non-Early
State  Date      Early   Early Voters   Likely Voters
NM     10/13     10%     Obama +23%     Obama +6%
OH     10/13     12%     Obama +18%     Obama +4%
GA     10/12     18%     Obama +6%      McCain +11%
IA     10/9      14%     Obama +34%     Obama +10%
NC     10/6       5%     Obama +34%     McCain +5%

We should caveat that these are not hard-and-fast numbers. Estimates of early voting results are subject to the same statistical vagaries as any other sort of subgroup analysis, such as response bias and small sample sizes.

Nevertheless, Obama is leading by an average of 23 points among early voters in these five states, states which went to George W. Bush by an average of 6.5 points in 2004.

Is this a typical pattern for a Democrat? Actually, it’s not. According to a study by Kate Kenski at the University of Arizona, early voters leaned Republican in both 2000 and 2004; with Bush earning 62.2 percent of their votes against Al Gore, and 60.4 percent against John Kerry. In the past, early voters have also tended to be older than the voting population as a whole and more male than the population as a whole, factors which would seem to cut against Obama or most other Democrats.

There’s a bit more analysis at the post. In addition to the sheer size of those numbers, I’m also heartened because I suspect that people are more likely to mislead pollsters about things they plan to do in the future (it doesn’t feel like a lie if you’re speaking hypothetically about a future action) than about things they have done in the past, so fears of the so-called “Bradley effect” (the supposed overestimation of support for black candidates in pre-election polls) might be unwarranted.

I’m still not going to count any chickens until the election is behind us, but there seems to be a very real possibility that the turnout models the pollsters have been using will be demolished by this election, and that enthusiasm for Obama among liberals, young people, blacks, and so on, combined with what has the potential to be a huge get-out-the-vote effort on Obama’s behalf, will create an Obama landslide.

I know that early voters aren’t representative of voters as a whole, and I know that we’re dealing with very small sample sizes here, but still, it’s getting harder and harder to find bad news for Obama these days. A 700-point drop in the Dow, while bad for my net worth, is presumably also good for Obama’s chances on the day of the final debate — at the very least, it gives him an easy comeback if McCain tries any character-based attacks. (“This is the kind of politics that the American people are tired of, John — on a day when they saw the value of their 401ks drop by over 5%, you keep trying to change the subject to a guy who did some despicable things when I was 8 years old…”)

Will someone please throw some cold water on these numbers, so that I can return to my moderately pessimistic equilibrium?


Excuse my language, but the McCain campaign has become truly despicable. Dishonorable doesn’t even begin to describe it anymore. I literally can’t keep up with the avalanche of smears and lies anymore. This one is particularly repulsive, partly because it so blatantly distorts the truth, but especially because the McCain people know that Obama can’t forcefully respond — if Obama’s campaign so much as hints at a reference to teen pregnancy, then they know that the McCain campaign will respond with feigned fury and outrage and turn the next week’s worth of news coverage into wall-to-wall discussion about whether or not Obama attacked Sarah Palin’s pregnant daughter.

All I can hope is that as these lies and smears pile up this week, the media will become dominated by discussion of how the McCain-Palin campaign has become almost nothing but exaggerations about their own records and slanderous distortions of Obama’s, with zero discussion of policy except for relatively trivial “earmarks” (which, by the way, Palin was a big fan of until she joined the ticket). Given our press corps, however, I’m pretty pessimistic.

UPDATE: I might have actually been overly optimistic about the press corps. The McCain campaign produces an ad, complete with the John McCain seal-of-approval voiceover, which falsely smears Obama, and Obama’s spokesman points out that this is not an example of the “honor” that McCain is always bragging about. So what is the headline on the Politico article about this? “Obama aide questions McCain’s honor.” The lead paragraph, in its entirety, is “The Obama campaign took its most personal shot ever at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday evening, questioning his honor over a claim in a new TV ad that the Democrat calls ‘perverse.’ ”

Got that? The McCain campaign attacks Obama in a dishonest advertisement, complete with creepy innuendo that Obama wants to teach “your family’s” kindergarteners about sex, and when the Obama campaign calls foul, Politico focuses on how the Obama campaign is “questioning McCain’s honor” and taking “its most personal shot ever at Sen. John McCain.” Here is a shot of the teaser at politico.com’s homepage right now:

I give up. I may not be able to follow news about this campaign any more. Maybe I’ll give my life savings to Obama’s campaign, and I’ll definitely vote for him in November, but for the sake of my own mental health I may have to ignore all news about the campaign until it’s over.

Compare and contrast

John McCain, 1998:

“Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.”

Barack Obama, 2008:

“I have said before, and I will repeat again: People’s families are off-limits,” Obama said. “And people’s children are especially off-limits. This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18, and how a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn’t be a topic of our politics.”

Yet even with this background, the McCain campaign has the nerve to accuse Democrats of unfairly making an issue of Palin’s family, even as they parade her family (including the young fiance and father-to-be) before cameras and make her family a centerpiece of her acceptance speech.

UPDATE: I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed. It’s nice to see that some in the media are starting to notice that the McCain campaign is feeding them total bullshit.