Browsing the archives for the McCain tag.

Fun with Newspaper Endorsements

Media / journalism, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Electoral Map if Newspapers Voted

Electoral Map if Newspapers Voted

Just about everyone discounts the value of newspaper endorsements for Presidential candidates.  The candidates get so much new coverage and scutiny that no one needs a push at the eleventh hour to help them decide how to vote.  Still, endorsements get a lot of coverage if only because they infuriate one group and allow another to bask in the glow of righteousness knowing their paper sees their wisdom.  The good folks at Editor and Publisher have been keeping a running tally of the endorsements this year and while they might not provide a lot of insight into the election, they are great fun to look at. 

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Obama and the Supreme Court

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

One of the talking points my friends on the right (real friends, not the McCain usage) bring up is concern over who Obama will appoint to the Supreme Court.  Obama made the following comments on his Supreme Court criteria

I would not appoint somebody who doesn’t believe in the right to privacy. But you’re right, Wolf, I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and I — when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it’s not just the particular issue and how they rule, but it’s their conception of the court. And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don’t have a lot of clout.

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Chafin’ Update

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Politics

Sarah Palin’s chafin’ all right.

On Tuesday I wrote that I thought she was “frustrated that her big debut is being stepped on by the wrinkly old white-haired dude and his ineffectual group of cronies,” and asked whether Palin would “break free from her handlers in ways large and small, and try to further her own career — even if that means doing direct damage to John McCain’s chances in these last two weeks before election day?”

Look what Ben Smith of Politico is reporting today:

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said.

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McCain 2008 = Gore 2000? Matching the numbers from Gallup, ABC, TIPP and Zogby

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

A fair bit of attention has been paid in the blogs today to the assertion of McCain’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt that “The McCain campaign is roughly in the position where Vice President Gore was running against President Bush one week before the election of 2000.” It’s met a good dose of scepticism. The WaPo drily annotated the quote as follows:

McCain’s team dismisses the most dire polls — those showing the race nationally with a double-digit lead for Obama. Advisers believe the contest’s margin is in the five-to-seven-point range, about the same deficit, they say, that then-Vice President Al Gore faced at this time eight years ago against then-Gov. George W. Bush. (A Washington Post poll at the same point in the 2000 race showed a tie.)

NBC’s First Read similarly remarked:

[T]he NBC/WSJ poll right before the election found Bush ahead by three among likely voters (47%-44%). But our most recent poll shows Obama up [..] 11 points among likely voters (53%-42%).

In addition, Marc Ambinder points out that the margins are “way different” state-by-state: “Obama’s doing much better in 2008 than Al Gore was in 2000 in the battleground states.”

Now I had a graph up here a week or two ago charting how Obama’s current Gallup numbers compare with the lead or deficit that Kerry, Gore and Clinton faced in the previous three presidential elections. In the days since, Googlers have found this site through at least 27 permutations of searches involving some combination around Gore, Bush, polls, October, historical, 2000, elections, tracking and Gallup. So this is a good occasion to update that post and expand it, not just looking at the Gallup numbers but also those from the ABC, Zogby and TIPP daily tracking polls from 2000, 2004 and 2008.

First off, that chart from last time, based on the Gallup polling numbers from the last four elections. Here’s the update:

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If you eat the cake, you can’t have it no more…

Presidential Elections, US Politics

Today, the folks at First Read write:

*** The Colin Powell floodgates: Three semi-notable Republicans came out for Obama yesterday, including two former very-moderate Republican governors: Arne Carlson of Minnesota and Bill Weld of Massachusetts. Neither is that surprising to those that know the politics of the two ex-governors, but to a layman’s eyes, it’s not good news for McCain. What is striking here is that these endorsements underscore how McCain somehow lost his moderate identity — even among Republicans who seem to know him well. Seriously, these are the type of Republicans the McCain of 2000 would have counted on as his base. How did McCain end up being the nominee that was overly focused on wooing the base? How did he lose this middle-of-the-road mojo? Forget the Bush issue and the economy; McCain’s inability to keep his moderate identity might be the biggest mistake bungle of the campaign.

I agree that this is a central problem with the McCain campaign. McCain got the nomination in part because he was able to convince two very different groups — the religious conservatives and the moderates — that he was their guy. The moderates had loved him since 2000, and were happy to finally have a chance to brush past the Bush machine and get McCain elected. The religious conservatives were skeptical but they didn’t have that many options — there was a deep distrust of the Mormon Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee didn’t seem to be a serious contender (though I think it’s significant that he received as many votes as he did). Divorced, cross-dressing, gay-friendly Rudolph Giuliani of New York City was an even worse choice for this group than McCain.

So they were brought along, grudgingly. And the grudge showed.

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Quote of the day: McCain’s Village People

Uncategorized

Christopher Orr on TNR’s blog The Plank:

Joe the Plumber, your time is evidently up. America, meet the new physical embodiment of the McCain candidacy, Tito the Builder. (I wish I were joking.) These days, the McCain campaign is starting to resemble nothing so much as a reunion of the Village People.

Comes with a comment of the day from “kenshap”:

Who’s next,  Mao the fireman?

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These two parts of the country count for equal shares of the vote

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

A propos of nothing in particular, an electoral map of sorts.

I selected all the states where McCain is currently leading, if even by the narrowest of margins, and painted them red (using the gadget at 270towin.com). To be generous and cautious, I actually used the pollster.com numbers from a week ago, when he was still leading in Missouri and North Dakota as well. And I selected the states that are absolutely foolproof safe for Obama and painted them blue.

These two selections count for almost exactly the same share of the Electoral College. These two selections represent roughly the same proportions of the US population.

A useful map, then, perhaps, to have at hand for two occasions:

a) Whenever someone harangues you about “the real America”, “heartland America” or “flyover country, where Joe Sixpack lives”.

Check: the Bos-Wash corridor with upstate NY and Vermont; Illinois; and the Pacific coast with Hawaii – together those states have as many Americans as all the even marginally red states together.

b) When you want to wonder at how unfavourable the underlying fundamentals of this race are for McCain.

Normally you start from a base level of reliable support, and then contest as many of the few remaining battleground states as you need to win. But this base level is just precariously low for McCain this year. Mostly because of a few givens: Bush’s unpopularity, the economic crisis and the loss of trust in the Republican brand on the economy, the unpopularity of the Iraq war. (And that’s not just “headwind”, as you’ll now find some conservatives describing it; it’s the result of Republican mismanagement.) But it’s also because of the Obama campaign’s willingness to reach far into red-state America and its access to the resources to do so, a testament of Democratic enthusiasm.

Either way, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and Florida are not part of the base level of support that Republicans can build on like they were in 2004. Which means that the Republican base level is as low as 185 Electoral College votes, rather than 249. And just 185 EVs? That’s so little that it barely counterweighs even the safest of safest blue states.

Again, nothing particularly newsworthy about any of this, but I still found it a pretty telling map.

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Chafin’

Politics, Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Elections, US Politics
Getty Images Photo

Getty Images Photo

A couple of weeks ago, in a post about how the McCain campaign was sequestering Sarah Palin from the media, I wondered, “Is there a point at which she will finally chafe at the treatment she is getting from the campaign?

She’s chafin’.

The New York Times today:

COLORADO SPRINGS — These days, Gov. Sarah Palin seems like a candidate trying to wriggle free of her handlers.

On Sunday night, she twice took questions from reporters, the first time on an airport tarmac without her press staff’s knowledge.

After landing in Colorado Springs late Sunday, Ms. Palin marched over to a local television crew and began answering questions on camera, sending the traveling press corps sprinting in pursuit, and her press staff scrambling.

“Get Tracey,” one campaign aide barked into his headset, calling for Tracey Schmitt, Ms. Palin’s ever-watchful spokeswoman, who rushed over to supervise the impromptu news conference. (Ms. Schmitt, looking distressed, tried several times to cut it off with a terse “Thank you!” in between questions, to no avail.)

I think something interesting is happening here, that will perhaps have a bearing on whether the McCain campaign can pull significantly closer to Obama in these last two weeks of the campaign. I think that Sarah Palin considers her running mate to be a loser, and that if she were at the top of the ticket (and making the decisions), she’d be winning.

In my previous post on this subject, I noted that Palin was upset that the McCain campaign decided to pull out of Michigan. Yesterday I noticed this (also quoted in the New York Times article):

On Sunday night, she criticized the Republican National Committee’s use of robocalls.

“If I called all the shots, and if I could wave a magic wand,” Ms. Palin said, “I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war, and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls, and includes spending so much money on the television ads that, I think, is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans’ attention span.”

“If I called all the shots…”

I think Palin’s frustrated that her big debut is being stepped on by the wrinkly old white-haired dude and his ineffectual group of cronies. She considers herself the star — and why wouldn’t she? There have been widespread reports of people leaving McCain/ Palin events when she’s done and the supposed headliner takes the mic. I think she has abundant self-regard and is pleased but isn’t particularly surprised at the adoration she receives at rallies.

Yet the wrinkly old white-haired dude and his cronies tell her to keep reading from the teleprompter with maximum spirit (“we’ve got spirit, yes we do!”) and otherwise stay in the background while they take care of the real business of winning an election.

If that possibility seems less and less likely — if Palin sees her chance of becoming vice president fade — will she become more of a free agent? Break free from her handlers in ways large and small, and try to further her own career — even if that means doing direct damage to John McCain’s chances in these last two weeks before election day?

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Spread the wealth around!

Debates, Media / journalism, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Economy, US Elections, US Politics

One of the oddest features about Wednesday’s debate was John McCain’s repeated, dismissive references to how Obama wants to “spread the wealth around”. McCain repeated that line no less than nine times, each time derisively, and nine times is a lot in a debate like this. In comparison, he mentioned “education” six times, and “health insurance” three times (which Obama mentioned ten times).

(By the way, if you’re looking for Wordles of the two candidates’ words during the debate, like the ones I made for the second debate, check out these ones that Flickr user spudart made.)

I was actually looking whether there was a YouTube video splicing together all his “spread the wealth around” lines. Because if I knew how to edit videos, I’d make one. I mean, just go to the wonderful NYT interactive election debates tool, type in “spread” in the neat search box above the coloured bars, and use the forward and play buttons to the right to switch between all the references. It’s wonderfully bizarre. (OK, maybe you have to be a geek.)

M J M

Wages have stagnated for a decade .. For most folks, spreading the wealth probably seems like a good idea. (Image used under CC license from Flickr user M J M)

The weird thing about these invocations is that, as Noam Scheiber pointed out, he “repeatedly invoked Obama’s line about ‘spreading the wealth around’ without explaining what makes it so offensive (beyond his own menacing tone).” As Scheiber adds, “it didn’t strike me as self-evidently damning.” Right. I mean, God forbid anyone would want to spread the wealth – give other people a shot at it too. As Ezra Klein adds, “Median wages have stagnated for a decade … For most folks, spreading the wealth around probably seems like a good idea.”

McCain got the quote from Obama’s answer to “Joe the Plumber” (who isn’t actually a licensed plumber, doesn’t actually make $250,000 and wouldn’t have to pay higher taxes under Obama’s plan even if he did buy that company), when they met during a campaign stop. It’s worth watching the whole answer Obama gave. There’s nothing particular controversial in his answer as a whole, and the “spreading the wealth” line came in the context of giving people who are where Joe was earlier in his life tax cuts so they would be helped making it too. But as Campaign Diaries points out, the McCain campaign wants you to see the line as “code words for socialism”.

The thing is that McCain didn’t actually bother to make that argument in the debate. He appeared to think that just repeating the line would make people go, “oh yeah, that’s terrible – spreading the wealth around, how can he say such a thing – he must be a socialist”. This equation strikes me as typically one of those things that only works within the bubble. Maybe because for most people, a $250,000 income is so far removed from their world, they can’t even imagine. After all, it’s just the top 3% who earns that much. It’s five times the median household income, and eight times the median individual income.

It is not far removed, however, from the lives of those reporting on politics for us. For network TV reporters, for pundits and politicians, for anchormen and talk show hosts, it’s not that much. They do know people who make that much, because they are often among the top earners in America themselves. So for them, it hits close to home. And because pundits and anchormen hang out with other pundits and anchormen, their view of what is normal is warped – for a striking example see the video below the fold. And this has serious consequences for the opportunities to market liberal economic policies.

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As Tough As He Needs to Be

Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
Barack Obama playfully confronts John McCain on the Senate floor, 2006

Barack Obama playfully confronts John McCain on the Senate floor, 2006

David Brooks finally brought himself to write a mostly admiring column about Barack Obama today. But the kind words led to a rather unkind conclusion — that Obama’s vaunted cool might ill-serve him as president:

Of course, it’s also easy to imagine a scenario in which he is not an island of rationality in a sea of tumult, but simply an island. New presidents are often amazed by how much they are disobeyed, by how often passive-aggressiveness frustrates their plans.

It could be that Obama will be an observer, not a leader. Rather than throwing himself passionately into his causes, he will stand back. Congressional leaders, put off by his supposed intellectual superiority, will just go their own way. Lost in his own nuance, he will be passive and ineffectual. Lack of passion will produce lack of courage. The Obama greatness will give way to the Obama anti-climax.

I just don’t see this. I have been arguing with people about Obama’s toughness for a very long time, and what I keep seeing from him is that he is as tough and confrontational as he feels is necessary, and doesn’t go beyond that.

He’s perfectly willing to be confrontational when he feels that confrontation is warranted, though. (Or to paraphrase one of his first famous lines, he’s not against all fights, just dumb fights…)

The photo above is from a confrontation Obama had with McCain in 2006. They were sitting on an ethics committee together and a “poison pen” episode led to tension and acrimony. (Basically, McCain erupted at Obama for no good reason.) The Washington Post reported the denouement:

Obama and McCain part deux

Obama and McCain part deux

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama appeared to make up yesterday after their unusual public poison-pen exchange (McCain accusing Obama of “partisan posturing” and “disingenuousness”; Obama expressing hurt that McCain “questioned my sincerity”) over lobbying reform.

As Obama entered the crowded Senate Rules Committee hearing room, he playfully brandished a fist while putting an arm around the seated McCain. Awwwwww! Many pictures were snapped. “I value his input,” McCain told the panel. Said Obama: “I’m particularly pleased to be sharing this panel with my pen pal John McCain.”

More recently, after Joe Lieberman went on a particularly strident run of campaigning for McCain, including (immediately before this encounter) participating in a McCain campaign conference call eviscerating Obama’s performance at AIPAC, Obama approached him on the Senate floor:

Roll Call reports that during a Senate vote today, Sen. Barack Obama “dragged” Sen. Joe Lieberman “by the hand to a far corner of the Senate chamber and engaged in what appeared to reporters in the gallery as an intense, three-minute conversation.”

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Instant debate polls uniformly positive for Obama

Debates, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Hattip to Pollster.com for the links – see also see their post from the first presidential debate about the methodologies used by these pollsters for the instant debate polls.

CNN poll:

Poll: Debate watchers say Obama wins

CBS poll of uncommitted voters:

CBS Poll: Uncommitted Voters Say Obama Won Final Debate

Democracy Corps focus group:

Undecideds Laughing At, Not With, McCain

See also:

Decisive debate win reinforces momentum for Obama

Media Curves poll:

Debate results for the 3rd 2008 Presidential Debate

Survey USA poll (California):

Heavily Democratic California Again Sees Decisive Obama Win In 3rd Presidential Debate

The Time article on the Democracy Corps focus group conducted by Stan Greenberg neatly illustrates the extent to which these polls show devastating numbers for McCain, far beyond just the question of who won:

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Should Obama backers check themselves?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

With Obama riding high in the polls, comparisons between John McCain and Bob Dole are gaining ever more currency. Former Hillary campaign flack Howard Wolfson has gone as far as declaring it’s over:

Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can’t afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can’t say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn’t going to save John McCain. The race is over.

Last Saturday, Wolfson went as far as penning a “premortem for the McCain campaign“, and was promptly criticized for it by ABC News’ Jake Tapper. On his blog, Tapper warned Obama backers to “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself“:

Buoyed by encouraging poll numbers [..] lots of Obama backers out there seem to think this thing is over. [But that’s] not what lots of smart folks in the Obama campaign think. They believe Obama’s poll numbers are artificially high, McCain’s are artificially low, this race will come down to two or three points, and anything could happen.

As Anne Kornblut and Jon Cohen in the Washington Post today remind us, “recent history suggests that mid-October leads are vulnerable […]”.

Is Tapper right? Should we check ourselves before rejoicing too early, only to find ourselves flat-footed when the numbers unavoidably narrow again? That’s always a piece of advice that’s close to my heart, but it bears mentioning that Tapper cherry-picks his data to make the point.

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