Thursday, October 30, 2008

Senate Update

Here's our Senate update. There is no doubt that the Democrats will retain control of the United States Senate, however, the question is how big of a majority will they have.
The magic number for the Democrats is 60. With 60 seats, their majority becomes, at least in theory, filibuster proof. Unlike any other legislative body, 40 percent can set the agenda by bringing legislation to a halt through a procedural move called a filibuster. Long gone are the days when Senators actually take to the floor and stall legislation through "debating it to death." All that happens today is a Senator calls for a filibuster and if he or she can get 39 other Senators to go along, the legislation is killed.

Even if the Democrats do get the 60 seat majority, it doesn't mean the end of the road for the GOP, because the Democrats will have to rely on Lieberman (I-CT) and a few other conservative Democrats to tow the line (Ben Nelson D-NE, Mary Landrieu D-LA, and Mark Pryor D-AR). With that said, here's our look.

There are 37 Democrats plus 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats who are not up for election. There are 26 Republicans not up for election. There are 35 seats contested in this election. The names in bold are Democratic pick ups. There are no Democratic seats in danger of a party change.

Safe GOP (9)

Sessions (AL), Risch (ID), Roberts (KS), Cochran (MS), Inhofe (OK), Graham (SC), Alexander (TN), Barrasso (WY), and Enzi (WY).

Safe Dem (15)

Pryor (AR), Biden (DE), Durbin (IL), Harkin (IA), Kerry (MA), Levin (MI), Baucus (MT), Lautenberg (NJ), Reed (RI), Johnson (SD), Rockefeller (WV) Warner (VA), Udall (NM), Udall (CO), Begich (AK)

Likely GOP (4)

Johanns (NE), Cornyn (TX), Collins (ME), Wicker (MS)

Likely Dem (2)

Landrieu (LA), Shaneen (NH),

Lean GOP (2)

McConnell (KY), Chambliss (GA)

Lean Dem (2)

Hagan (NC), Merkley (OR)

Toss Up (1)

Coleman/Franken (MN) (Coleman is the incumbent Republican)

We believe the Democrats will pick up eight seats by winning all the seats which are lean, likely, or safe, and the Minnesota seat. The Republicans will hold all the seats listed as safe, likely, and lean. That means a 59 seat majority for the Democrats. Their most likely way to get to 60 is to pick off Saxby Chambliss in Georgia. A tremendous African-American turn out could end Chambliss's Senate career.

Prediction of new Senate: Democrats (with the two independents) 59, Republicans 41.

All ACORN, All the Time -- The parallel universe that is Fox News

When Buzz and I can't find an old episode of Star Trek on the plethora of cable channels we have at the OVC central command, we can always travel to an alternate universe on Fox News. It's almost impossible to turn to Fox News these days and not see a series of stories on ACORN. ACORN (the association of community organizations for reform now) is the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country. It was created in 1970 and has a commitment to social and economic justice.

Fox News has devoted almost as much time to ACORN as Nancy Grace has dedicated to telling us that Casey Anthony should be drawn and quartered. The problem with ACORN is that they hired people on an incentive system based on the total number of registrations an individual could get. The more registrations the workers, got they more they got paid. This lead to registrations of "Mickey Mouse" in Florida and the Dallas Cowboys team in Nevada. What's important to remember about the ACORN matter is that ACORN was required by law to hand in these registrations no matter how illegitimate they appeared. ACORN went one step further and red flagged any suspicious registration before they handed them into the Voter Registration Offices. These fictitious registrants are not showing up to vote.

Barack Obama's only direct formal connection to ACORN was limited to representing ACORN as co-counsel with the US Department of Justice on an Illinois Motor Voter case in the early 1990s. It is true that a number of ACORN's future leaders participated in "Project Vote" in the early 1990s. Obama helped organize Project Vote, a successful voter registration drive in Illinois in the early 1990s. This is the ACORN story, period. Sorry. One more point. John McCain was a featured speaker in February of 2006 at an ACORN rally in Miami, Florida. McCain gave a speech where he praised the group's accomplishments and mission.

Fox News is neither "Fair" nor "Balanced." It is basically the propaganda wing of the Republican National Committee. Don't get me wrong, other national media outlets certainly have a liberal slant, but at least they attempt to report the news with only occasional commentary. There are those on MSNBC, for example, who obviously have an axe to grind. Keith Olbermann is the perfect example. Countdown with KO is a very entertaining and informative show, but at least Keith tries to separate his opinion from the news he reports. Again, don't get me wrong. Olbermann is a liberal and proud of it. When he wants to pontificate on a subject at length, he separates that opinion in his "Special Comment" segment.

Further, MSNBC is not just Keith Olbermann. MSNBC has a three hour morning program hosted by conservative former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough. And here's something that has always perplexed us about, does Pat Buchannan live at the MSNBC studios? He is literally on from morning to night, forcefully offering his well reasoned conservative point of view. During the rest of the programing day, they offer a variety of anchors who may be liberals at heart, but give conservatives and liberals fairly equal treatment.

What Fox has done is intertwine news with opinion so tightly that you can't tell the two apart. Sean Hannity is the perfect example. Here's a little drinking game for our avid readers. Watch Hannity and Colmes. Drink every time Hannity says any of the following: "Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, Father Flager, Joe the Plumber, or Socialist." Mark my word, you will be falling down drunk fifteen minutes into the show.

But what is more troubling than the opinion shows of Hannity and Bill O'Reilly is the fact that 24 hours a day, Fox tries to pass off opinion as news, all the while blasting the Main Stream Media, to which it is a part. In a perfect world, it would be nice to have an alternative to liberal leaning media --- a network that was indeed "Fair and Balanced," but what Fox News has created is the conservative counterpart to the liberal evils they decry.

Let's take Sarah Palin as an example. Palin did a number of interviews with Fox News' Sean Hannity, and I use the word "interview" very loosely. Hannity failed to ask her a single difficult questions. His interview can be summed up this way. Hannity's questions amounted to "Tell us why you are the Second Coming of Christ." It was like an eight year old child interviewing his sports hero. The Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric interviews consisted of questions which any competent candidate for the nation's second highest office should have answered with ease. They were not "gotcha" journalism, or the media picking on her because she is a woman. THEY WERE THE MEDIA DOING THEIR JOB. Hillary Clinton would have been able to answer the Gibson and Couric questions with ease, because she knows how to think and analyze, not just spout off scripted talking points.

Here's some recent gems from the "fair and balanced" network. Dick Morris repeatedly said Obama was general counsel for ACORN. Obama was an associate in a law firm that represented ACORN in a "motor voter" law suit in 1993. ACORN "almost" got money in the $700 billion bailout. Neither the September draft proposal nor the final version of the bill contained any language mentioning ACORN. Hannity referred to former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines as "a chief economic adviser" to Obama. Raines has no involvement with Obama or his campaign.

In 2003, the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland conducted a thorough study of public knowledge and attitudes about current events and the war on terrorism. While the PIPA study concluded that most Americans (over 60%) held at least one of these mistaken impressions, the researchers also concluded that Americans’ opinions were shaped in large part by which news outlet they relied upon to receive their information.

Looking at the misperceptions one at a time, people were asked, for example, if the U.S. had discovered the alleged stockpiles of WMD in Iraq since the war began. Just 11% of those who relied on newspapers as their “primary news source” incorrectly believed that U.S. forces had made such a discovery. Only slightly more — 17% — of those who relied on NPR and PBS were wrong. Yet 33% of Fox News viewers were wrong, far ahead of those who relied on any other outlet.

Likewise, when people were asked if the U.S. had “clear evidence” that Saddam Hussein was “working closely with al Queda,” similar results were found. Only 16% of NPR and PBS listeners/viewers believed that the U.S. has such evidence, while 67% of Fox News viewers were under that mistaken impression.

Overall, 80 percent of those who relied on Fox News as their primary news source believed at least one of the three misperceptions. Viewers/listeners/readers of other news outlets didn’t even come close to this total

The by-product of the Fox News propaganda machine is a misinformed public, and a public that focuses on the propaganda spewed forth by Fox News. Buzz showed me an example of this in one of our local papers from this week. There were two "letters to the editor" in support of John McCain. Neither of them focused on McCain more than saying McCain puts "country first," and he is a man of "absolute moral character and integrity." The main focus of the letters was Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, ACORN, an the liberal media. In fairness, there was one letter supporting Obama. That letter did an adequate job explaining Obama's tax plans as the reason to vote for Obama.

We're gonna go watch some Star Trek.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Next To The Last Electoral Update

With six days to go we have yet to see the long anticipated John McCain surge. Barack Obama has seen a slight decline (maybe 1.5 points) in the Realclearpolitics national average. Tonight marks the 30 minute Obama infomercial. McCain does not have the money to counter punch.

The surprises or states which jump out at us because they have changed categories from last week are Arizona and South Dakota falling from Safe McCain to only Solid McCain. And even more shocking is that Ohio has moved from Toss-Up to Solid Obama.

Here are our categories. Safe is defined as an average poll lead of 10.0 points or more, Solid is a poll average of 5.0 points to 9.9 points, and Leaning is defined as 3.0 to 4.9 point average lead. Toss Up states are defined as a state which either candidate leads by less than a 3.0 poll average. For those of you not as electorally savvy as Buzz or me, the magic number is 270 electoral votes.

Our 2008 Presidential Election Prediction, where we will pick both the electoral vote total and the popular vote total, is at the end of the article.

Safe Obama (259)

California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (17), Minnesota (10), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (15), New York (31), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (11), Wisconsin (10).

Solid Obama (52)

Colorado (9), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), Ohio (20), Virginia (13).

Leaning Obama (27)

Florida (27).

Safe McCain (124)

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Nebraska (5), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), Wyoming (3).

Solid McCain (18)

Arizona (10), South Dakota (3), West Virginia (5).

Leaning McCain (21)

Georgia (15), Montana (3), North Dakota (3).

Toss Up (37)

Indiana (11), Missouri (11), North Carolina (15).

Solid Obama and Safe Obama (311) Solid and Safe McCain (142)

Obama with Leaners (338) McCain with Leaners (163)

Now here’s the 6 day out prediction Obama 364 electoral votes, McCain 174 electoral votes. We believe Indiana and North Carolina will go to Obama, and Missouri will go in a squeaker to McCain. Our prediction on the popular vote is Obama 53 percent, McCain 46 percent, Others 1 percent.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Day, Another Major Endorsement

There's a hole in the Republican dam which keeps growing and growing. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell jumped through the hole on Meet the Press last Sunday and former George W. Bush Press Secretary jumped through on CNN's new D.L Hughley show this weekend. Now Former US Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) (pictured above on the left) has joined the growing number of GOPers who have endorsed Barack Obama. You may be saying, "who the hell is Larry Pressler?" Well, you're not alone. Pressler was a three term US Senator from South Dakota. What makes his endorsement newsworthy is the fact that he was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in the United States Senate and a Republican Senate colleague of John McCain for 10 years.

Pressler did two tours of duty in Vietnam from 1966 to 1968 and was awarded the prestigious Bronze Star. He served as head of the Senate Commerce Committee during the Clinton years, and he was instrumental in the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in 60 years.) Pressler was defeated in an attempt at a fourth term by current United States Senator Tim Johnson.

Pressler said, "I just got the feeling that Obama will be able to handle this financial crisis better, and I like his financial team of (former Treasury Secretary Robert) Rubin and (former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul) Volcker better," he said. He told Politico that Republican presidential nominee John McCain's "handling of the financial crisis made me feel nervous." Pressler said this is his first vote for a Democrat for president. "I feel really badly. I just hate to go against someone I served with in the Senate," he said. "I voted and I got it mailed and I dropped it in the mailbox, and it tore at me to do that." Pressler also said he donated $500.00 to the Obama campaign. Ouch!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama Leads in Newspaper Endorsements 170-69

As of today, Barack Obama leads John McCain in the newspaper endorsement race 170 to 69. Obama's major endorsements this weekend include the Hartford Courant, the St. Petersburg Times, the Providence Journal, the Anchorage Daily News, the Des Moines Register, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Baltimore Sun, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and the Albany Times-Union. McCain picked up the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Arizona Republic.

Obama's lopsided margin, including most of the major papers that have decided so far, is in stark contrast to John Kerry barely edging George W. Bush in endorsements in 2004 by 213 to 205. The circulation number of newspapers which have endorsed Obama exceeds 15 million, whereas the circulation number for McCain is around 4 million.

We know that newspapers don't vote and that newspaper editors, may as a whole, but more liberal than their readers, but what is striking about this number is that George W. Bush had almost as many endorsements in 2004 as did John Kerry. Also, thirty-eight newspapers which endorsed Bush in 2004 have switched to endorsing Obama in 2008. Most notably, the Denver Post, the New Haven Register, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News, the Houston Chronicle, the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Wisconsin State Journal have switched from Bush to Obama. The Los Angeles Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer did not endorse in 2004, but this year they have endorsed Obama.

The only newspapers with a circulation of over 40,000 that have endorsed McCain in 2008 after endorsing Kerry in 2004 are the Bradenton (Florida Herald (48K circulation), the Corpus Christi Caller-Times (53K circulation), and the Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia) (91K circulation). The Wasington DC Examiner (100K circulation) did not endorse in 2004, but endorsed McCain in 2008.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pennsylvania - Bob Barr Country

As goes Pennsylvania, so goes the nation... Not exactly. When Buzz and I started OneVoteCounts, we had planned on doing a comprehensive, in depth, no stone unturned analysis of the Presidential race in Pennsylvania. We figured that Pennsylvania would be close (one or two percentage points,) and we also figured the electoral vote totals would be close, and thus Pennsylvania was a must win for Obama if he hoped to reach 270. As we approach single digits in the election day countdown, it appears that even if McCain wins Pennsylvania, he may still lose the election.
First, here's a little Pennsylvania Presidential election history. Since 1948, Pennsylvania has voted for the Democratic candidate 8 times and for the Republican 7 times. 11 out of 15 times, PA has gone with the winner. PA went with the losing candidate four times. They were Dewey in 48, Humphrey in 72, Gore in 00, and Kerry in 04. George H. W. Bush was the last Republican to win the state in 88.
Today's realclearpolitics (RCP) average in PA is 11.0 in Obama's favor (51.5 to 40.5). This number has been in the double digits for the last few weeks, despite McCain pouring millions of dollars into Pennsylvania. It should be noted that Obama is out spending McCain in PA, as he is everywhere else. What is troubling for those who believe McCain has a chance in PA is the fact that McCain hasn't lead in a statewide poll since April. Only two of the 12 polls this month showed Obama's lead under 10 points, and those leads were 7 and 8 points. There also is no indication of any significant narrowing of the gap by McCain. We do note the number has dropped from a high of 13 a week ago, but if that is a trend, McCain would have to continue that for another seven weeks and he only has 10 days to the election.
The problem McCain faces by drawing a line in the sand with Pennsylvania is that Pennsylvania may not matter to Obama. Obama has solid leads in all the states John Kerry carried in 2004. This puts Obama at 252 (including PA). Starting with the 252 number, Obama has an RCP average lead of 8.4 in New Mexico (5EV), 7.0 in Virginia (7EV), 6.6 in Ohio (20EV), and 5.4 in Colorado (9EV). This would put Obama at 293 (270 is the magic number). If McCain wins PA and all the other toss up states not listed above, Obama would still have 272 electoral votes.
Here's some more bad news for McCain. Five other states Florida (27EV), North Carolina (15EV), Nevada (5EV), Missouri (11EV), and Indiana (11EV) show Obama leading in the RCP average. That's another 69 electoral votes.
Polls are not 100% accurate, but even if we throw out half of them and just give those states to McCain, he still loses.
The Pennsylvania or die strategy is difficult for McCain. The more money and time he spends in Pennsylvania, the less time and money he has to spend elsewhere. Even if by some peculiar set of circumstances McCain does win PA, it just may not matter. Pennsylvania is the only Kerry 04 state (maybe New Hampshire (4EV)) where McCain is waging a battle. All the rest of the fights are on Bush 04 territory. Obama is bringing the battle to McCain home turf, and there are just too many states for McCain to defend with his limited budget. Obama can, has, and will continue to outspend McCain.
The bottom line is this. Obama wins PA. The revised OVC prediction has just been handed to me by Buzz. (I say revised, because Buzz, an ardent Bob Barr supporter, had fudged the original numbers to show Barr winning PA, with Obama and McCain coming 3rd and 4th behind Ralph Nader.) Gore won PA by 4.5% in 00, Kerry won by 2.4% in 04. The OVC revised prediction is 53.5 % for Obama, 45.0 % for McCain and 1.5% for the two other candidates.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Early Voting Looks Good for Obama

In a close election, it's all about getting your voters to actually get out and vote. George W. Bush did this very effectively in 2004. His "get out the vote" (GOTV) effort helped him defeat John Kerry by a little over 3,000,000 votes. Barack Obama realized this very early in his campaign and has put together a ground game that, so far, is looking even better than the 2004 Bush GOTV.
Poll after poll has shown that voter enthusiasm is much higher for Obama than John McCain. The big question is whether or not this enthusiasm will translate into votes. We have the first evidence that this enthusiasm is indeed resulting in people getting out to vote.

According to the Associated Press, in North Carolina, blacks make up 31 percent of early voters so far, even though they're just 21 percent of the population and made up only 19 percent of state's overall 2004 vote. In Georgia roughly 36 percent of the early voters are black , outpacing their 30 percent proportion of the state's population and their 25 percent share of the 2004 vote. In Louisiana, more than 31 percent of the early voters are black, and Democrats are topping Republicans nearly 2-to-1. In the crucial battleground state of Florida, nearly 55 percent of early voters are registered Democrats — well above their 41 percent share of the electorate in the Sunshine State.

Although we do not have any results, and will not have any until the polls close on November 4th, we do know that polls show that Obama should receive about 88 percent of the Democratic vote and 92 percent of the African-American vote.
If these trends continue, this election will not be close.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

McCain-Palin R.I.P.

It's all over but the shouting. And shouting we will see --- at least from McCain, Palin, and company. On election night 2000, the late Tim Russert held up a small white board with three words written on it. He had written "Florida, Florida, Florida." This year it's "Penn-no-chance-in-hell-for-McCain-sylvania, Io-long-since-gone-wa, Colo-bama-rado, Ohi-down-double-digit-o, North-we-can't-be-losing-there-Carolina, and Indi-oh-my-God-we're-gonna-lose-here-too-ana." A series of polls which have come out today have written the McCain-Palin obituary. With 12 days to go, even Harry Truman couldn't pull this one off.
Eight new Big 10 battleground polls came out today, and McCain's got Obama "right where he wants him." Here are the numbers: Obama leads in all, Illinois 62-32, Pennsylvania 52-41, Michigan 58-36, Minnesota 57-38, Wisconsin 53-40, Iowa 52-39, Indiana 51-41, and Ohio 52-41. There's also a Quinnipiac poll from Ohio that shows Obama up 52-38. has also, for the first time, moved Ohio from toss up to Leaning Obama. (For those of you not familiar with Realclearpolitics, they average all reputable polls together to come up with their RCP average.)
It won't be long to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr, when we can all join in a chorus of "Back in Alaska, back in Alaska, thank God Almighty Palin's back in Alaska."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We Broke Our Promise

Question: What's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? Answer: A $150,000.00 wardrobe. Buzz and I had promised to not write about Governor Sarah Palin, but two tidbits from yesterday were too good to pass up. First, it has come to light that the Republican National Committee (RNC) has spent $150,000 on clothes and accessories for Palin and her family. Second, in news that must come as a shock to the eight living Senate majority leaders, pictured above, the Vice President, according to Palin, is "in charge" of the United States Senate.
According to, the Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000.00 to clothe and accessorize Palin and her family since she was picked by John McCain as his running mate. "The accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74. The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September. The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August." That's a lot of lipstick!

The McCain camp's initial response was: "The campaign does not comment on strategic decisions regarding how financial resources available to the campaign are spent." After questions about the legality of the expenditures were raised, the campaign revised its remarks. "With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it’s remarkable that we’re spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses," said spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt. "It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign."

For a woman who claims she's just a "hockey mom," we must assume that her definition of "hockey mom" is a little different than ours. Remember the flack John Edwards got for his $400 haircut or Hillary Clinton got for two hairstyling sessions that cost $3000. For someone who claims she's just one of us, like Joe the Plumber, she has in the words of Ricky Ricardo "some 'splainin' to do."

Clothinggate is not a major issue, but it is a bit amusing. What is more troubling is her response to a question asked during an interview with KUSA-TV in Denver. In a feature called "Question from the Third Grade." The interviewer asked, "Brandon Garcia wants to know, 'What does the vice president do?'"

Palin's response is as follows:

"That’s something that [my 7-year-old daughter] Piper would ask me! That's a great question, Brandon, and a vice president has a really great job, because not only are they there to support the president's agenda, they're like the team member, the team mate to that president, but also, they're in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom. And it's a great job and I look forward to having that job," she said.

We really don't have a problem with the first part of the answer. The Vice President can be said to be a "team mate to that President, but the second part of the answer is just wrong. This is not the first time Palin has been asked about the job of the Vice President.

Palin was originally asked in July if she was interested in the job of Vice President. She said she would first have to know "what the Vice President did every day." She was asked a similar question during the Vice Presidential debate. She responded. "Of course, we know what a Vice President does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution will allow a bit more authority given to the Vice President if that Vice President so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the President's policies and making sure too that our President understands what are strengths are."

Article 1, Section 3 of the US Constitution states "(T)he Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." Article 2, Section 1 states "(I)n Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death,Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President." Amendment 12 states "the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President." Amendment 20 states "if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified." And finally, Amendment 25 states (I)n case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President." Or in the case of disability of the President, Presidential "powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President."

These are the only places in the Constitution where the job or duties of the Vice President are mentioned. So in short, he or she presides over the senate and breaks tie votes, and takes over if the President can't perform his or her duties. He or she is not "in charge of the Senate." Even Dick Cheney, who had some unusual views on he Vice President realized that he was not "in charge"of the Senate. In fact, Cheney's most memorable moment in the Senate was when he told Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to "go fuck yourself" in June of 2004.

Buzz and I may be a little old fashioned, but we believe before you seek a job the least you should do is know what the job duties are, especially if they are listed in a multitude of place (including every 5th Grade Social Studies book.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Weeks.... and counting

Two weeks to go and things haven’t picked up for McCain. The Joe the Plumber strategy is just more “preaching to the choir.” Joe may soon have his own show on Fox News. I believe he has already moved into the Fox News studio. Joe’s economics lessons have helped simpletons throughout the nation (Palin included) to realize that Obama is a “socialist.”

Here’s a redefinition of our categories. Safe is defined as an average poll lead of 10.0 points or more, Solid is a poll average of 5.0 points to 9.9 points, and Leaning is defined as 3.0 to 4.9 point average lead. Toss Up states are defined as a state which either candidate leads by less than a 3.0 poll average. For those of you not as electorally savvy as Buzz or me, the magic number is 270 electoral votes.

Our 2008 Presidential Election Prediction, where we will pick both the electoral vote total and the popular vote total, is at the end of the article.

Safe Obama (239)

California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (17), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (15), New York (31), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (11),

Solid Obama (38)

Minnesota (10), New Mexico (5), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10).

Leaning Obama (14)

Colorado (9), Nevada (5),

Safe McCain (137)

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arizona (10), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Nebraska (5), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), Wyoming (3).

Solid McCain (18)

Georgia (15), Montana (3),

Leaning McCain (11)

Indiana (11).

Toss Up (81)

Florida (27), Missouri (11), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3), Ohio (20), West Virginia (5).

Solid Obama and Safe Obama (277) Solid and Safe McCain (155)

Obama with Leaners (291) McCain with Leaners (166)

Now here’s the two week out prediction Obama 364 electoral votes, McCain 174 electoral votes. Our prediction on the popular vote is Obama 53 percent, McCain 46 percent,

Monday, October 20, 2008

Powell Endorses Obama and Goodbye Sarah

General Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama on Meet the Press yesterday, calling Obama a "transformational figure." It was not an easy choice for the former Secretary of State to go against his friend of 25 years, but there appears to be two straws that broke the proverbial camel's back for Powell. McCain's erratic behavior during as exhibited by his campaign and the choice of Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.

With regard to the McCain campaign, two factors shifted Powell's choice on who to vote for. He said that as he watched McCain, the Republican “was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having, and almost every day, there was a different approach to the problem, and that concerned me, sensing that he didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had."

The second reason was the negative tone of the McCain campaign. "They're trying to connect [Obama] to some kind of terrorist feelings, and I think that's inappropriate," Powell said. "Now I understand what politics is all about — I know how you can go after one another. And that's good. But I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for. And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me." He further said, "this is not the way we should be doing it in America. I feel strongly about this particular point. We have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that within the party, we have these kinds of expressions."

Powell also had this to say about McCain's choice of Palin. "She's a very distinguished woman, and she's to be admired," he said. "But at the same, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made."

A number of voices on the conservative side of the political spectrum questioned Powell's motives, particularly stating that Powell's choice was based primarily on Obama's race. Tom Brokaw, host of Meet the Press, asked Powell this very question. Powell responded, "If I had only had that in mind, I could have done this six, eight, 10 months ago. I really have been going back and forth between somebody I have the highest respect and regard for, John McCain, and somebody I was getting to know, Barack Obama. And it was only in the last couple of months that I settled on this."

Not everyone on the political left is cheering the Powell endorsement. To many liberals, and particularly the anti-war left, Powell will always be remembered as the guy who took President's Bush's case for war to the United Nations. It is argued that Powell may have been the one person in the Bush cabinet who had the power to stop the Iraq war before it started. This is not entirely true.

Powell was Secretary of State at the time when Bush and Cheney were pushing for war in Iraq. At first, Powell pushed for more negotiations and diplomatic solutions as an alternative to war. He finally relented, and then became the reluctant warrior. Powell had a choice. He could have resigned in protest or he could have done what he did ---- go to the United Nations and press the cause for war.

Resigning in protest would probably have had the same effect as Elliot Richardson's and William Ruckelshaus's resignations as Attorney General when President Richard Nixon told them to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox during the height of the Watergate investigation. Nixon found someone else to fire Cox (Robert Bork for trivia purposes.) Condolezza Rice would certainly have been willing to step in to Powell's shoes. Like Richardson and Ruckleshaus, history would have looked favorably upon Powell, but like the firing of Cox, the President would have prevailed in getting his wish.

Powell chose the other option --- become the reluctant warrior with hopes that he could have more influence on the Iraq situation in power than as a private citizen. It was a tough choice, and I'm sure there are times when Powell at least has second thoughts about his decision.

In any case, Powell's endorsement is a coup for Obama. It seriously deflates the argument that Obama is all rhetoric and no substance. Powell is still well respected in the political middle. His endorsement is bound to convince some undecideds that Obama may just be ready to be President. How many he will sway is yet to be seen.

With regard to the distinguished Governor of Alaska, isn't it about time we all came to the same conclusion of Powell --- "I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president." The job of Vice President is not unlike that of back-up quarterback --- The VP must be ready at a moment's notice to become President. But unlike the back-up quarterback, there's no time for "on the job" training. With a football team, if the back-up fails, there's always next year. With regards to the Presidency, we can't write off this season and look to next year.

In the seven and a half weeks since McCain picked Palin, we have come to know the Governor of Alaska. One thing has become abundantly clear --- she is not ready to be President, and may never be ready. She has demonstrated over and over again that she has little grasp of the serious and complex issues that face the President everyday. Unlike Obama, there is nothing behind the rhetoric. There have been, throughout our history, President's who've lacked experience when the were elected (Lincoln for example,) but in most cases those with the lack of experience at least had the ability to grasp, understand, and dissect complex issues (Lincoln for example.) Palin has shown none of this. She has only shown an ability to enthuse the base and alienate everyone else.

With that said, Buzz and I have decided not to talk about her anymore. At least we will try.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chicago Tribune Makes History

For the first time in its 161 year history, the nation's 8th largest newspaper has endorsed a Democrat for President. Only twice since the founding of the Republican Party, has the paper not endorsed the Republican nominee. They endorsed Bull Moose Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, and they endorsed Horace Greeley (pictured above) as an Independent in 1872. The Chicago Tribune's decision was much more than an endorsement of favorite son Barack Obama. They endorsed Dwight Eisenhower over favorite son Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956. They endorsed Richard Nixon in 1960, 1968, and 1972, and they endorsed George Bush in 2000 and 2004.
The reasoning behind the endorsement was not unlike the Washington Post endorsement of Obama. The paper wrote: "McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country."
What is more significant than that is what they said about Obama. "We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president. We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready."

Washington Post Endorses Obama

Not surprisingly, the Washington Post has endorsed Barack Obama for President. What is interesting, however, is some of the language they used in the endorsement. The Post wrote: "THE NOMINATING process this year produced two unusually talented and qualified presidential candidates. There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president."

"The choice is made easy in part by Mr. McCain's disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president."

The most important decision a Presidential nominee makes during his campaign is the choice of a running mate. These decisions are many times based on balancing the ticket either geographically or politically or to fill a perceived weakness of the Presidential nominee. In 1960, John Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson, in large part, because Kennedy was from Massachusetts and Johnson was from the South (Texas.) In 1980, Ronald Reagan picked George H.W. Bush, in large part, because Bush was from the now defunct moderate wing of the Republican Party. Many Americans in 1980 feared that Reagan was too conservative.

In 1992, Bill Clinton picked longtime Washington pol Al Gore, because he felt he needed someone with Washington experience. George W. Bush picked Cheney (actually Cheney picked himself,) because he also wanted someone who knew his way around Washington.

In all of these cases, few if any questioned the ability of any of these first mates to take the helm at the ship of state. Johnson was majority leader of the US Senate, Bush, Sr. was a Congressman, head of the CIA, Ambassador to the United Nations, Envoy to China, and Director of the CIA. Al Gore was a four term Congressman and an eight year US Senator. Dick Cheney (love him or hate him) was White House Chief of Staff, six term Congressman, the minority Whip in the House, and Secretary of Defense.

When it came to choosing a running mate for John McCain he passed over a number of candidates. Candidate Number 1: Mitt Romney (longtime successful business leader, 4 year Governor of a moderately large state, and CEO of the 2002 Olympics). Candidate Number 2: Tom Ridge (six term House member, two term Governor of a large state, and Secretary of Homeland Security). Candidate Number 3: Joe Lieberman (four term US Senator and foreign policy maven). There are others.

McCain went with this resume. 1 semester Hawaii Pacific University, 2 semesters North Idaho College, 2 semesters University of Idaho, 1 semester Matanuska-Susitna College, 3 semester and a BA in journalism University of Idaho, four years as councilwoman in town of 5,000 people, six years as mayor of that same town, and 20 months as Governor of the 4th least populous state.

For all her charm and her ability to energize the base, can anyone truly say that Sarah Palin is qualified to lead this country. Palin got the job of running mate, because she talked the conservative talk. The Palin pick speaks volumes on John McCain's judgment. Politics over Competence. If McCain picks the person for second highest office in the land using this criteria, can we really be confident that his will value competence over politics on Cabinet selections and Supreme Court nominees.

We had eight years of "Politics over Competence" Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, Michael Brown to head FEMA, Harriet Myers as a Supreme Court nominee (later withdrawn), Monica Goodling as White House liaison to the Department of Justice are just a few examples of George W. Bush's rewarding of loyalty and political ideology over competence.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Joe the Plumber" Aint No Plumber

John McCain became obsessed with "Joe the Plumber" at last night's debate. Today he said Joe the Plumber was the winner of the debate. The Toledo Blade reports today that: "He is also not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio, which means he’s not a plumber." They quote the business manager of the local Plumber's Union who said, "This individual has got no schooling, no licenses, he’s never been to a training program, union or non-union, in the United States of America."

What does this all mean? McCain can't buy a break. We also learned that McCain has hired a helicopter to take him from Philadelphia to New York City in order to make the Letterman show. There are airport delays in Newark which forced McCain to change his plans. Remember he canceled his last Letterman appearance two hours before the show, claiming he had to catch a plane back to Washington, D.C. to address the Wall Street bailout. He didn't catch the plane. He did an interview with Katie Couric, and then stayed overnight in New York City to give a speech at the Clinton Initiative. This lead to a continual assault by Letterman over the next few weeks.
All the instant polls directly after the debate, including Frank Luntz's Fox News focus group, showed that Obama won the debate among undecided voters. (CNN - 58% Obama, 31% McCain, CBS 53% Obama, 22% McCain, Politico 49% Obama, McCain 46%)
McCain was on the attack early, but appeared to be angry. He did little to dispel the "Hey kids, get off my lawn!" image. Obama, again, appeared calm and composed. Nothing McCain did could rattle Obama's cool demeanor. McCain did not get he game changer he so desperately needed.
McCain probably did, however, manage to alienate the last of the undecided Hillary voters with this response on an abortion question. After continually referring to Obama's position as "pro abortion," McCain said this: "Just again, the example of the eloquence of Senator Obama. His health for the mother. You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Last Debate

Tonight's the night. The last debate of the 2008 Presidential Election will take place tonight at Hofstra University. What can we expect to see, and what does McCain need to do to narrow the widening gap in the polls?
McCain did poorly in the last two debates, and there is no reason to believe that he will fare any better tonight. McCain has looked old and angry. He has done nothing to change the image of the old man who yells, "Hey kids, get off my lawn!" Obama has looked calm and controlled. He has also looked very "Presidential." We are in a time of economic crisis, and more and more undecided voters are viewing Obama as the man who they want at the helm of the ship of state.
If we see the same performances from both candidates, Obama should maintain his lead and may even see it grow. McCain says he's gonna kick Obama's "you know what." He will have a difficult time doing this without looking like a grumpy old man.
Will McCain go on the attack tonight? Will he bring up William Ayers or Reverend Jeremiah Wright? The Dow dropped 733 points today, so the focus should be on the economy. If McCain gets into the "dirt," don't believe for one moment that Obama isn't ready for him. My belief is that Obama will return the focus to the economy and make McCain look foolish for not talking about the economy.
Buzz and I will be watching the debate and enjoying a good cigar. We'll let you know what we think tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Fourth Quarter Has Begun

It’s three weeks until the 2008 Presidential Election. John McCain said this week that he has Obama right where he wants him. If six to ten points down is "exactly" where he wants to be, I'm wondering how he would define his position if the polls were reversed. I really can't imagine a football coach say that his team is "exactly" where he wants to be if his team is losing by three touchdowns midway through the fourth quarter. Polls may not vote, but to paraphrase Ronald Reagan's quote on "facts," polls are stubborn things.

We have added another category to our electoral predictions. In addition to the Toss Up category, we now have Safe, Solid, and Leaning. Safe is defined as an average poll lead of 10.0 points or more, Solid is a poll average of 5.0 points to 9.9 points, and Leaning is defined as 3.0 to 4.9 point average lead. Toss Up states are defined as a state which either candidate leads by less than a 3.0 poll average. For those of you not as electorally savvy as Buzz or me, the magic number is 270 electoral votes.

We have also added our 2008 Presidential Election Prediction, where we will pick both the electoral vote total and the popular vote total.

Safe Obama (239)

California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (17), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (15), New York (31), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (11),

Solid Obama (25)

Minnesota (10), New Mexico (5), Wisconsin (10).

Leaning Obama (69)

Colorado (9), Florida (27), Ohio (20), Virginia (13).

Safe McCain (140)

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arizona (10), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), Wyoming (3).

Solid McCain (18)

Georgia (15), Montana (3),

Leaning McCain (5)

Indiana (11).

Toss Up (42)

Missouri (11), Nevada (5), North Carolina (15), West Virginia (5).

Solid Obama and Safe Obama (264) Solid and Safe McCain (158)

Obama with Leaners (333) McCain with Leaners (163)

The national and state numbers continue to trend towards Obama. As the numbers harden, McCain is running out of time and voters. Obama’s national average is hovering around 50 percent. McCain is mired in the low 40s. As far as the states go, McCain’s chances of winning any of the states Kerry won in 2004 are very slim. Obama, on the other hand, leads by 3 or more points in six states Bush won in 2004, totaling 81 electoral votes. Two of those states (New Mexico [5] and Iowa [7]) sees Obama consistently ahead by 5 or more points.

Since Kerry won 252 electoral votes in 2004, the addition of New Mexico and Iowa puts Obama at 264, six votes shy of the 270 number. What this means is that McCain must hold all the states in which he has a lead and win every other state where Obama is leading. With the exception of Nevada, an Obama win in any one of these states means Obama will be taking the oath of office on January 20th. (Winning them all and losing Nevada would mean a 269-269 tie.)

If there is a tie, the Presidential election goes to the newly elected House of Representatives, with each state getting one vote. Twenty six votes are needed to win the election. It appears that the new House will have 27 delegations with a Democratic majority, and thus Obama should win if it goes to the House in an unlikely electoral tie.

Now here’s the three week out prediction Obama 349 electoral votes, McCain 189 electoral votes. Our prediction on the popular vote is Obama 53 percent, McCain 46 percent, Others 1 percent.

Anchorage Daily News Agrees with Norton

Buzz and I are not naive enough to think that the media in Alaska read our blog, but it's nice to see that they agree with us on our assessment of Governor Palin's reaction to the Troopergate report. Alaska's largest daily newspaper, The Anchorage Daily News, wrote this in its lead editorial today.

"Sarah Palin's reaction to the Legislature's Troopergate report is an embarrassment to Alaskans and the nation. She claims the report ‘vindicates’ her. She said that the investigation found ‘no unlawful or unethical activity on my part.’ Her response is either astoundingly ignorant or downright Orwellian."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not Ready For Prime Time

Governor Sarah Palin told us to "read the report" on Troopergate when she was questioned by reporters. Well, I took her advice. I read the report and came to a simple conclusion that confirmed my opinion of the perky Alaskan Governor --- Sarah Palin is not ready for prime time.

The report is 263 pages long and is available on the web in PDF format. (Troopergate) It's a bit of a sleeper, but Norton has had adverse reactions to Ambien, so the troopergate report is just the remedy for insomnia.

The basic factual background is this. Sarah Palin's sister, Molly was married to an Alaskan State Trooper Michael Wooten. Sometime in 2005, the Wootens were having marital problems which resulted in a divorce. At the time, Sarah Palin was Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. The divorce, which involved a child custody battle became a little contentious. (One of the more salacious tidbits in the report a transcript of divorce proceedings before an Alaskan judge, wherein the judge denies Molly's request for a 55-45 split of marital property. The judge berates Molly for purposely being "underemployed" in an attempt to get a more advantageous spilt of marital property and for her and her family's efforts to get Michael fired.)

Around this time, Molly's family (the Heaths) filed a complaint or series of complaints against Michael Wooten. Among the allegations against Wooten were a threat of violence against Molly's father, the illegal shooting of a moose, the tasering of an 11 year old, and driving the patrol car either under the influence or while drinking. As a result of these allegations, Wooten was disciplined with a suspension. This "slap on the wrist" did not sit well with the Palin clan. They believed Wooten was not fit to wear the uniform of the Alaska State Police, and they were not about to let sleeping dogs lie.

Shortly after Palin was elected Governor, in fact 4 days after, Sarah Palin took up the cause of getting Wooten fired. In early January, 2007, about a month after Palin took office, Commissioner of Public Safety Walt Monegan was summoned to the Governor's office to meet with "the First Gentleman" Todd Palin. Todd was armed with a file that including pictures. Much of this information was gathered by a private investigator hired by the Heath family. Todd Palin wanted Monegan to re-examine the Wooten matter, believing that Wooten should be fired. Todd made certain that Monegan knew this was also the position of the Governor.
Monegan gave the file he received from Todd Palin to an assistant who reviewed the file in conjunction with the disciplinary file on Michael Wooten. It was concluded after a "page by page" comparison that no new information existed in the materials given to Monegan and that Wooten received appropriate discipline. Monegan considered the matter closed, and relayed this to Todd Palin a few days after the January meeting in the Governor's office.
Governor Palin called Monegan a few days after Todd received the news that Monegan considered the matter closed. She was frustrated that Monegan would not reopen the matter, and believed that Wooten had only received "a slap on the wrist."
Believe it or not, this was not the end. On February 7, 2007, Governor Palin emailed Monegan to again stress her belief that Wooten should be fired. She reiterated a number of incidents which she believed proved her point that Wooten was not fit to wear the uniform of an Alaska State Trooper. Six days later, the Governor brought up the matter again in a face to face meeting with Monegan. Monegan told Palin he needed the Governor "to keep an arm's length on this." This may have been the last direct contact by the Governor on the Wooten matter, but it was not the last that Monegan would hear of Wooten from Palin surrogates.
Two weeks later, Mike Tibbles, Pain's Chief of Staff had a face to face meeting with Monegan to discuss the Wooten matter. This meeting ended when Monegan said the matter was closed and it was not an appropriate thing to discuss.
Enter Todd Palin, again. In the Spring of 2007, Monegan received a call from Todd Palin. Palin said that he saw Wooten "some 100 miles out of Wasilla riding a snow machine, and that he had taken pictures of Wooten." At the time, Wooten was on leave for a work related inury. Todd believed that this was workers' compensation fraud. Todd called Monegan again in the fall to inform Monegan that Wooten was seen dropping off one of his kids in a state patrol car.
It gets better. On February 29, 2008, Frank Bailey, an aide to Governor Palin called the Ketchikan Alaska State Trooper office. Bailey did not realize that he called into a recorded telephone line. Bailey said: "But you know Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads. You know, why on Earth hasn't -- why is this guy still representing the department? He's a horrible recruiting tool, you know... And I'm telling you honestly, I mean, she -- you know she really likes Walt a lot. But on this issue, she feels like it's -- she doesn't know why there is absolutely no action for -- for a year on this issue. It's very, very troubling to her and the family, you know. I can -- I can definitely relay that." Bailey made another call to the Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety to complain about Wooten on March 6, 2008.
Bailey made one more phone call to Charles Kopp, the former Commissioner of Public Safety. He informed Kopp that "... the Governor's office would like to make a change at some point in the future leadership i the Department of Public Safety... Todd is really upset with Monegan." Two days later, Monegan was fired by Governor Palin.
The report concluded that Governor Palin "knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit, to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired. She had the authority and power to require Mr. Palin to cease contacting subordinates, but she failed to act." Such actions violated the Alaska State Ethics Act. The report also concluded that the Governor did not break any laws, because the Commissioner for Public Safety serves at the pleasure of the Governor, and that the Governor does not need a reason to fire him.
Governor Palin's response to the report shows she's either outright lying or she doesn't understand basic ethical rules. In a Saturday conference call with Alaska journalists, Palin said she was "pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing ... any hint of any kind of unethical activity there." She denounced the investigation, calling it "a partisan circus."
The McCain campaign has set up a web site titled "Palin Truth Files," and characterizes troopergate in these terms: "Since John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, her political opponents and committed Obama supporters have transformed a nonpolitical inquiry into a political circus designed to smear Governor Palin and alter a national election."
Where have we heard this before...Sounds a lot like one of the defenses the Bush administration employed in the Valerie Plame incident, but more importantly it shows us that Sarah Palin is "not ready for prime time." The pettiness which involved the whole Wooten incident is frightening. This is minor league petty politics.
We are lead to believe that Sarah Palin spent her days as Governor tackling big issues in her state --- stopping pork barrel spending, solve complex energy issues, and cleaning up state government in her own "mavericky" way. The truth appears to be much different. Governor Palin seems to have devoted much time and effort to pursuing a family feud. It is particularly troubling to see the extent to which she allowed "the First Dude" to meddle in affairs of state. Sarah Palin is clearly NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

60 seats

Not since Robert Byrd was majority leader of the 95th Congress in 1977 has one party held a filibuster proof majority in the United States Senate. Current polling show that the magic number of 60 is a distinct possibility for the Democrats. The current breakdown of the United States Senate is 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 2 Independents. The Independents, Bernie Sanders (VT) and Joe Liberman (CT) caucus with the Democrats, and thus the Democrats are the majority party.
The United States Senate is unlike any other legislative body in our nation. 41 Senators can bring the Senate to a screeching halt with a filibuster. A filibuster can only be broken by a cloture vote, which requires the concurrence of 60 Senators. This requirement of a super majority causes the Senate to work out compromises which many times water down legislation that passes the House by a simple majority.
The Democrats came into the 2008 election cycle with a distinct advantage to add to their 49 seats. A number of long time Republicans chose to retire. Pete Domenici (R-NM), John Warner (R-VA), and Wayne Allard (R-CO) decided not to seek re-election. All three of these seats will most likely be occupied by Democrats come January. Former Governor Mark Warner has consistently polled at or above 60 percent in the Virginia contest against former Governor James Gilmore. Tom Udall also has consistently polled 15 points or more ahead of Steve Pearce in New Mexico. Tom's cousin Mark Udall has been ahead of Bob Schaffer by smaller but consistent margins in Colorado.
Jeanne Shaheen has solidified a high single digit lead in New Hampshire against incumbent Republican John Sununu in a 2002 rematch. Sununu has trailed in the polls except for a short period following the GOP convention in early September.
Three other seats see incumbent Republicans in serious danger of losing their seats. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is embroiled in a federal criminal trial for accepting gifts in excess of $250,000 from an Alaska businessman. If he loses the trial, his election chances are very dim against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. If he wins his trial, he may retain his seat. The 84 year old Stevens is the longest serving Republican Senator in history.
Gordon Smith (R-OR) is locked in a close race in the blue state of Oregon. Smith has tried to distance himself from the Republicans, and has gone as far as using Barack Obama in his television ads. Jeff Merkley has been running a tough campaign that sees him consistently ahead in the polls.
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), wife of former Senator Bob Dole, has fallen behind Kay Hagan after leading by 15 points this summer. North Carolina has been trending to Obama, and the Obama camp has put a lot of time and money into voter registration and get out the vote efforts.
Comedian and talk radio host Al Franken has seen strong gains in his race to unseat Norm Coleman in Minnesota. Franken will not lose this race for lack of effort. Coleman has aired a multitude of ads attempting to use Franken's comedic career against him. His efforts have increased both candidates negatives. There is also a third party candidate in this race who should garner 10 to 15 percent of the vote.
Three other seats in the Republican South now seem obtainable for the Democrats, Roger Wicker (R-MS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) still lead by small margins, but all have seen their double digit leads evaporate.
In 2006, Democrats took five out of six of the hotly contested Republican controlled seats. If Obama continues to increase his lead in the polls, his coattails may help the Democrats run the table and achieve a 60 plus seat majority. Obama would have a much easier time pushing his agenda through a filibuster proof Senate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What if The States Starting Registering Voters and No Republicans Showed Up?

Based on the newly registered Democratic and Independent voter numbers in eight battleground states, if this were a boxing match, the referee would stop it. What happened to that formidable Republican Ground Game? It certainly hasn't shown up when it comes to voter registration. The Washington Post listed new voter registration numbers in eight battleground states, and the numbers are dismal news for John McCain and Sarah Palin.
In Florida, there are 316,000 new Democratic registrations and 155,000 new Independent registrations compared to 129,000 new Republican registrations. North Carolina numbers made the Florida numbers look good for McCain ---- 208,000 new Dems, 148 new independents, but only 34,000 new Republicans.
Nevada and Colorado had similar numbers. Nevada saw 91,000 new Democrats, 26,000 new Independents, and 22,000 new Republicans. Democrats now have an 81,000 voter registration edge over the Democrats. Bush won Nevada in 2004 by 21,000 votes, at a time when registered Republicans outnumbered registered Democrats. Colorado saw 80,000 new Democrats, 28,000 new Independents, and only 21,000 Republicans.
Bush won New Mexico in 2004 by 6,000 votes. Now there are 40,000 new Democrats as compared to 12,000 new Republicans. Virginia and Missouri do not register voters by parties, but both states saw tremendous gains in registration in traditional Democratic strongholds, while the Republican areas of the states did not see similar gains.
Perhaps most shocking were the Pennsylvania numbers. In a must win state for John McCain, Democrats gained 474,000 new voters, while the Republicans lost 38,000 voters since 2004.
There are two caveats to this good news for Obama. First, many of these voters registered to vote in the Democratic primary when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton engaged in a heated battle. Second, not all these registered voters will vote. With that said, the sheer number difference between Republicans and Democrats is staggering, and even half of these new voters show up on election day, there numbers are enough to change Red states Blue. In Pennsylvania's case, it really makes Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes look like a pipe dream for John McCain.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Four More Weeks!

Things are looking bad for John McCain. Just as the economy is taking a beating, so are McCain’s poll numbers. Perhaps this explains why McCain has attempted to turn the focus from the economy to a barrage of negative attacks on Obama. In the past, I’ve questioned if the John McCain of 2000 would vote for the John McCain of 2008. Now I’m beginning to question whether the “high road” John McCain of earlier this year would vote for the “low road” John McCain of October.

Safe Obama States: (264)

California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (21), Iowa (7), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (17), Minnesota (10), New Hampshire (4), New Jersey (15), New Mexico (5), New York (31), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (11), Wisconsin (10).

Leaning Obama (69)

Colorado (9), Florida (27), Ohio (20), Virginia (13).

Safe McCain States (158)

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arizona (10), Arkansas (6), Georgia (15), Idaho (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (9), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (34), Utah (5), Wyoming (3).

Leaning McCain (5)

West Virginia (5).

Toss Up (42)

Indiana (11), Missouri (11), Nevada (5), North Carolina (15),

Solid Obama and Leaning Obama (333)

Solid and Leaning McCain (163)

The major developments this week are Obama continually improving poll numbers in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. Florida and Ohio are now moving out of the margin of error zone and into leaning to Obama. Two other points of note: The polling trends show that Virginia is on the cusp of Lean Obama and Solid Obama, and Georgia is also on the cusp of turning into a Lean McCain state after a long period of time in the Safe McCain camp.

I expect, as we are beginning to see three things --- Negative Campaigning, Negative Campaigning, and Negative Campaigning. To paraphrase Bette Davis, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s gonna be a bumpy October.”

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Out of the Loop

Not since President Franklin Roosevelt neglected to tell Vice President Harry Truman that he was building an atom bomb has a Vice President (or VP candidate) been as "out of the loop" as Sarah Palin appeared yesterday when she found out about McCain pulling out of Michigan by reading it in the newspaper. This might be a good thing if McCain is elected, because the further out of the loop Palin is, the better. But, since John McCain has the best chance of dying since William Henry Harrison, his Vice President should not only be in the loop but must be prepared to be President from day one.
Being out of the loop may have just been a campaign "slip up" in a campaign which appears to be cornering the market on campaign blunders, or was it intentional. Michigan is a state which John McCain and most political observers believed would be competitive this year and provided the chance of a Democratic pick up. Recent polls have shown that a Michigan win for McCain is about as likely as a Michigan Wolverine Big Ten Football title this year. But why not get the news to Palin?
What is even more problematic than Palin's lack of knowledge of the Michigan decision is her response after reading a newspaper article about the pull out. Palin said in a Fox News interview yesterday, "I read that this morning, and I fired off a quick e-mail (questioning the move.) Todd and I, we'd be happy to get to Michigan and walk through those plants of the car manufacturers. We'd be so happy to get to speak to the people in Michigan who are hurting because the economy is hurting... I want to get back to Michigan, and I want to try." Well maybe there's something to be said about giving it the "ole college try."
First of all, if you read it in the newspaper, why not call John McCain and say, "did you forget to tell me something about Michigan?" Does it really make sense or show good judgment to tell the media, albeit Fox News, that you are so out of the loop that you have to read about major campaign decisions in the newspaper. Second, why would you also tell the media that you're questioning what appears to be a very sound decision by the McCain campaign?