Browsing the archives for the US Elections category.

Getting out the vote in Ohio, infectiously

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Very cool and effective Get Out The Vote video from the Obama ’08 organisers in Ohio. My SO called it the most effective ad she’d seen all season (though her enthusiasm may have been proportionally related to the number of beers she’d drunk).

I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s pretty damn good, as an empowering, enthusing, mobilizing kind of agit-prop (and I mean that in a good way). An example of good practice.

I found it through Ezra Klein, who noted that the least inspiring part of this Ohio GOTV video is actually the Obama speech.

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Polls dramatically tightening in Pennsylvania, but does it matter?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Here’s something to feed your jitters: three new polls on Pennsylvania, all showing Obama ahead by just 4-5%.

How should we regard them? And will the electoral fate of Pennsylvania matter in the big picture anyway? First, a rundown of the polls in question:

  • Thursday saw the release of an NBC/Mason-Dixon poll that had Obama ahead by just 4 points, 47% to 43%.

Not reassuring: The last time Mason-Dixon polled the state was in mid-September, when it had Obama ahead by 2. At the time (McCain was still riding his post-Convention bounce), that was comparable with what other pollsters were finding: six other polls conducted around the same time ranged from a tie to a 5-point Obama lead.

Possible comfort: The poll was of a mere 625 likely voters, making for a relatively high 4% margin of error.
Possible comfort: Mason-Dixon, Nate Silver pointed out, “has .. had a Republican “lean” this cycle of perhaps 2-3 points. They are quite frequently the most favorable number for John McCain in any given state.”

The trendlines for the state since 4 February, when Internet polls are filtered out and the trend smoothing is set to more sensitive.

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Spread the wealth? What Americans think

Economy, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Economy, US Elections, US Politics

In my post, after the third presidential debate, about McCain’s efforts to make “spreading the wealth around” sound like the most ominous thing, I quoted Ezra Klein as saying that “for most folks, spreading the wealth around probably seems like a good idea” right now.

This is correct, Brian Schaffner of the CCPS argued yesterday at his new home on Taking as lead how the ABC/WaPo poll hasn’t shown any movement this month on the question which candidate is trusted more on the question of taxes, he digs up data showing so from a 2003 survey conducted by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Kennedy School of Government.

Moreover, in case you’re feeling doubtful about those sponsors, the same thing is largely confirmed by Gallup data, which the polling firm’s in-depth look at the issue on Thursday revealed.

Schaffner argues that the McCain camp’s insistence that Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the top 5% of income-earners smacks of class struggle and socialism doesn’t drill into much of a popular perception. It isn’t surprising “that McCain hasn’t gotten much traction by criticizing the fact that Obama wants to increase taxes for high income Americans,” Schaffner writes, because the 2003 survey actually showed that most Americans believe “high income people pay less than their fair share”. Over 60% of Independents, over 70% of Democrats and even a plurality of Republicans  agreed. Barely over 10% of independents and some 30% of Republicans, on the other hand, thought that high income people “pay more than their fair share”:

The Gallup polling data doesn’t directly address the question whether wealthy Americans pay enough taxes, but it does show a majority of Americans believing that “the distribution of money and wealth in this country” isn’t “fair”. Throughout intermittent polls in the last twenty-odd years, an ample majority opined that wealth should be “more evenly distributed among a larger percentage of the people,” while just 27-37% believed that the current distribution is fair:

Two details strike me in this graph. The opinion that “spreading the wealth around” seems like a good idea isn’t just something that’s coming up “right now”, in the face of a financial crisis; it’s actually been pretty consistent through the years. But there’s two kinds of variations over time.

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Daily tracking polls update: “Looking OK now” edition

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Tracking polls update, 31 October

Chart1: Daily tracking polls update, 31 October

Three days ago, I was feeling nervous about a sudden seeming lurch-let towards McCain in the daily tracking polls. This in spite of repeated posts by the experts insisting that there was no actually meaningful tightening going on, it was mostly just a question of statistical artifacts.

By this morning,’s status update did acknowledge that there had been some movement: “If you look at our national trend chart, we definitely show a narrower Obama margin now (5.4% as of this writing) than about a week ago.” Obama’s current national trend estimate, Mark Blumenthal explains, now stands about a point lower than his high of 50.9% a week ago, and McCain’s current estimate is slightly less than two percentage point higher than his low of 42.2% on October 12.

However, there’s still little to worry about, basically, as he points out the obvious to calm our nerves: “[T]ime is short and Obama’s lead still looks daunting. [..] Obama continues to lead on every national poll and yesterdays tracking updates show no decisive shift in either direction.”

Today’s tracking poll numbers certainly help sooth the jitters, as most actually show movement towards Obama (see Chart 1). Over the last two days, the ABC/WaPo, IBD/TIPP and Rasmussen daily trackers all have Obama’s lead back up 1 point, Zogby has it up 2, and the Gallup samples have moved back in Obama’s favour too: the regular voter and expanded likely voter samples both by 2 points and the traditional likely voter sample by no less than 5 (from 3% to 8%).

The result is that the average of all daily tracking polls has Obama’s lead back up by 1 point from +5.6% to +6.6%, after it had fallen by 2.7 points in the previous four days.

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Small Children Give Big Landslide to Obama

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

It’s now official: the children of America have spoken.  In its fourteenth quadrennial presidential poll, the Weekly Reader tabulated the votes of over 125,000 school children, ranging from kindergarteners through the tween set and all the way to high school.  The result: Democrat Barack Obama, with a solid 54.7 percent of the vote, defeated his Republican rival John McCain, who garnered a paltry 42.9 percent.  Despite the fact that most of the participants are ineligible to vote in the real election, the outcome is nevertheless significant.  In twelve of the thirteen previous elections, the Weekly Reader poll has accurately predicted the winner of the general election.  The only exception came in 1992, when the little jerks voted for Bush the Elder rather than Clinton.  It should also be noted that, in 2000, Florida school kids, presumably confused by the ballot, voted overwhelmingly in favor of Pat Buchanan.

Is our children voting?

George W. Bush: "Is our children voting?"

With its its success rate at over 90 percent, the Weekly Reader has been more accurate in its predictions than many major polling organizations, such as Zogby or … well, mostly Zogby.  In fact, Zogby helped to run this year’s Weekly Reader poll, which should naturally make one a bit skeptical of the results.  After all, the poll’s methodology is suspect, it doesn’t reach kids who only have cell phones, and it undercounts home schoolers and dropouts (core constituencies of the Republican Party), .

Nevertheless, there are several reasons to take the poll seriously.  Pundits surmise that the children, who gain most of their political knowledge from their parents, will vote for candidates that reflect their parents’ preferences.  The children, in effect, are stand-ins for their parents, who can’t be bothered to pick up the phone and respond to pollsters who call right in the middle of Deal or No Deal.  So, in other words, if little Johnny votes for Obama, it’s probably because his parents plan to vote for Obama, and if little Suzy votes for McCain, its probably because her parents are abusing her.  Quick, call the cops!

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Why Not Wright?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

McCain has five days to make up six points in the polls.  He needs a game changer and there is no big event coming, no opportunity to exploit.  So why not go with Reverend Wright?  It’s something some on the Right have been demanding for several weeks now.  Reverend Wright and his you-tube sermons should be a better source of Obama bashing than the often repeated Ayers attacks.  The Ayers charge was always questionable and easily debunked, but Wright and Obama actually had a close and well documented relationship. So why hasn’t McCain or the RNC or some political action group charged in?  My take is that there are three key reasons why the McCain campaign is not going there.

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“Most of his policies are in strict harmony with Socialist principles”

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Andrew Sullivan has a great find:

From an anti-T.R. letter to the editor of the New York Times in 1908:

Moreover, most of the Rooseveltian policies – the arid land reclamation schemes, the National forests, the leasing of coal and mineral rights, the renting of grazing lands, the construction of the Panama Canal by direct employment, the development of water powers under public ownership and control – are in strict harmony with Socialist principles….The faith of our forefathers in the sacred principle of competition as the self-acting force which yielded ideal justice and rendered to every man according to his deserts, has departed as surely as the belief in witchcraft. [Socialists] can’t threaten me worse than Theodore Roosevelt does with his inheritance and income tax schemes and the social workers of New York with their ever-increasing demands on the city budget.

Teddy Roosevelt is McCain’s favorite president.

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Massive early voting … the wonder, the worry, the role of race

Politics, Presidential Elections, US culture, US Elections, US Politics

WSB TV down in Georgia reports a story that’s at once heartwarming and horrifying: Clayton County voters on Monday, the first day of advance voting, stood in line for 12 hours to vote. Twelve hours!

While the polls officially closed at 7 p.m. Monday night [..], the line to vote at the Frank Bailey Senior Center in Riverdale didn’t clear up until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Clayton County voter Patricia Lewis finally voted in Riverdale after standing in line to vote for six hours. “I vote in every election and I couldn’t pass this one up. I think about my dad, about the struggles he went through and for me to vote again is just amazing,” Lewis. [..]

For much of the day, Clayton County voters stood in line for eight to nine hours to cast their ballots.

Channel 2 talked to one poll worker who worked an 18 hour shift. She still didn’t complain about the problems. She said she was just glad to see so many people interested in voting. “It makes me feel good,” said election worker Beatrice Lyons. “They can just come and stay all night and I’ll be right here.”

Lyons said she saw some people arrive at 1 p.m. Monday and they didn’t vote until 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Voting is fun! (Image used under CC license)

Voting is fun! (Image used under CC license)

Now those are moving stories, but once again I am just the foreigner with his mouth agape: how is this possible? I mean, I’m familiar enough with the election day reports to know that it’s fairly common for people in certain states and regions to have to wait in line for hours to vote – many hours sometimes. What’s the deal here – you’re the wealthiest country in the world, and you can’t set up enough polling stations to avoid making voters stand in line for hours on end to exercise their democratic rights?

The political salience of the story, meanwhile, is of course that this is not election day. Election day isn’t for another day. This is advance voting, and already people are standing in line for hours. What massive turnout is taking shape?

Daniel Nichanian at Campaign Diaries (where I got the above link from too) had some stunning numbers yesterday:

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Educating the Next Generation of voters

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Obama Wins Scholastic News Election Poll

Obama Wins Scholastic News Election Poll

I never paid much attention to it before, but with four children in school it’s hard to miss: Presidential elections are when we train the next generation to vote.  My children are all about the election.  They’re bringing home worksheets on the parties, discussing the candidates with their classmates and holding mock elections.  They’re asking lots of questions and they are looking to me for answers at the dinner table.  They watch all those advertisements on TV in the evenings.  “Is that true?”  “Why would he say something like that?”  I’ve debated tax policy with my high schooler and he’s debated it with his friends.  When I ordered my Obama yard sign, they anxiously waited for it to come in.  “Is it here yet?”  “The election is coming!”  When it arrived, everyone went to plant it in the yard.  My kindergartener proudly placed an Obama magnet on my wife’s car.  (No bumper stickers allowed there.)  Last night, the yard sign was stolen from my quiet suburban yard after being there less than a week while my neighbors’ McCain signs sat unmolested.  How do I explain that?  Time to get out the poster boards and crayons because my children want to be involved in this election and our yard is going to have a sign!


Daily tracking polls update: the nervous edition

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Is John McCain’s evil masterplan working?

I’m a bit confused about what masterplan, evil or otherwise, McCain would be implementing right now – I mean, ginning up a red scare about Obama the Socialist, really? But it wouldnt be the first time that a tack I considered wholly idiotic seems to work with American voters. (They sometimes work with Dutch voters too, for that matter – though probably not the red-baiting one.)

Either way, the daily tracking polls are showing some tightening of the race. Could be statistical noise, could be real. The movement would probably not be enough to decide the race either way, but still, the lowest estimates of Obama’s lead are getting disconcertingly close to zero:

  • Gallup has Obama’s lead down 3 points today, both in its expanded likely voter model (from 10% to 7%) and its traditional model (from 5% to a perilous 2%);
  • Rasmussen has Obama’s lead down 3 points in two days, from 8% to 5%;
  • Research 2000 has Obama’s lead down 4 points in two days, from 11% to 7%;
  • Zogby has Obama’s lead down a point today to just 4%, after it already fell from 10% to 5% the day before yesterday.
  • The IBD/TIPP poll is stubbornly stuck at a modest 3-4% Obama lead since the 22nd.

All in all, Obama’s average lead in the daily tracking polls has fallen from 8.3% three days ago to 6.0% tonight.

Chart 1: All daily tracking polls

Chart 1: All daily tracking polls

It should be said that there is one non-tracking poll that paints a seriously different picture. A Pew poll out today is showing a delirious 15-point lead for Obama among likely voters, with McCain down at just 38%. John Judis flagged that one (using the poll’s even more favourable numbers for registered voters) to tell us to “start popping the corks”.

The balance is evened out again, however, by the GWU Battleground tracking poll (which I dont include in the graphs because it’s not a daily tracking poll), which has Obama’s lead unchanged at just 3%. So count me in with his colleague Noam Scheiber, who is “still sweating” it.

For an overall picture of all national polls, check out …

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Strategery, Democrat Style

Politics, US Elections, US Politics

In the first presidential debate, Sen. John McCain accused Sen. Barack Obama of not understanding the difference between a strategy and a tactic. If I had to guess, I’d say that McCain’s eyes have been opened as to the extent of Obama’s understanding. As he thrashes about in the spider web laid by the fifty state strategy (hollering out “we’ve got ’em right where we want ’em”) McCain must, somewhere deep in side, be acknowledging to himself that Obama is better at this strategy thing than he is.

Make no mistake, McCain is a gifted politician and he has guts. He pulled his own primary campaign out of the mud of mismanagement with nothing but shoe leather. But he’s no match for someone who, a year and a half or more ago, came up with a really good plan and stuck with it. There’s just nothing quite like getting it right the first time.

Of course, it is still possible that Obama can lose this election, but if he does it won’t be because of how his campaign was run. Obama’s execution of the previously attempted fifty state strategy is not his accomplishment alone, of course. Aside from his campaign staff, he has Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton to thank for its success.

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Notes From A Battleground State: Crumbslide?

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Politics

The Busken bakery in Ohio has been conducting a “cookie poll” since 1984. They sell cookies festooned with the image of the candidates, and keep a tally of the sales. They’ve called the winner every single time — within 4 percentage points of the final tally!

So how’s it look for Obama?

(Note, the McCain cookie is frowning here — because he’s losing by a 2-1 margin! — but the one for sale is smiling.)

That’s as of Tuesday, October 28th at 10:40 AM. Click here to keep tabs.

Brian Busken, VP of marketing, says, “We’ve never seen a spread like this before in the numbers. I don’t know if there’s going to be a crumbslide or not. … We may still predict the winner, but probably by way too many cookies.”

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