Friday, November 28, 2008

The Supremes

When Barack Obama takes office on January 20, 2009, he faces a number of tough choices with regards to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the troubled economy, but he may also be faced with filing up to three vacancies on the United States Supreme Court. OVC takes a look at what the next four years will look like for the nation's highest court.

The current make up of the Supreme Court is as follows: Chief Justice John Roberts (Age 53, Appointed by G.W. Bush 2005); Justice John Paul Stevens (88, G. Ford 1975); Justice Antonin Scalia (72, R. Reagan 1986); Justice Anthony Kennedy (72, R. Reagan 1988); Justice David Souter (69, G.H.W. Bush 1990); Justice Clarence Thomas (60, G.H.W. Bush 1991); Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (75, W.J. Clinton 1993); Justice Stephen Breyer (70, W.J. Clinton 1994); and Justice Samuel Alito (58, G.W. Bush 2006).

The judicial philosophy of the court is spilt with Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito making up the conservative wing. Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer make up the liberal wing of the court. Kennedy generally sides with the conservatives, but he sometimes crosses over and sides with the liberal wing. Kennedy's philosophy is sometimes confusing, and his vote cannot be relied upon by either side.

The most likely justice to leave is Stevens. He is the longest serving member (33 years) and the oldest justice (88, 89 on April 20, 2009) on the court. He has also evolved into one of the most liberal justices on the court. Appointed to the court by Jerry Ford, Stevens has drifted to the left, and has become a solid member of the liberal wing. OVC expects Stevens to announce his retirement before the beginning of the next term in October, 2009. Stevens is quite comfortable with Obama choosing his successor.

The next most likely member of the court to ride off into the sunset is Ginsburg. Ginsburg is not in the best of health. She underwent surgery for colo-rectal cancer in 1999. Her cancer appears to be in remission, but she has hinted that she would leave the court if a Democrat won the 2008 Presidential election. OVC would not be surprised if Ginsburg announces her retirement at the end of this Supreme Court term in June, 2009.

There have also been rumors that Souter may retire at the end of this term. He is 69 years old, which makes him one of the younger members of the court. His health is good, but it is reported that he never really took to life inside the beltway. Souter may join Stevens and Ginsburg in retirement.

The remaining members of the court will be around for a while. Roberts and Alito are both in their 50s, and have only been on the court for a short time. It would be highly unlikely for either of them to leave the court in the next four or eight years. Scalia and Thomas would never leave during a Democratic administration, so they're not going anywhere. Kennedy is in good health, and we don't see him leaving anytime soon, either.

Here's a list of the potential Obama appointees for the Supreme Court.

(1) Diane Wood (58 years old) -- One of the two or three most often mentioned candidates in the press. Wood was appointed to the federal bench in 1995 by Bill Clinton. It's hard to find a knock on her candidacy. She has nice credentials, is well regarded intellectually, and she is from Chicago. She would certainly be a favorite upon a Ginsburg retirement.

(2) Elena Kagan (48 years old) -- Kagan is the current Dean of Havard Law School (Obama's alma mater) She certainly has the stature, has high level Washington experience, is the perfect age for a long run on the Court, and is respected across the political spectrum for her handling of hiring issues at Harvard. She has no judicial experience, so keep an eye on her if she gets a Court of Appeals appointment early on in Obama's presidency.

(3) Merrick Garland (56 years old)-- Garland was appointed to the D.C. circuit court by Bill Clinton in 1997. The D.C. Circuit is a favorite grooming place for Supreme Court nominees. Garland is also a Harvard law grad.

(4) Cass Sunstein (54 years old) Sunstein is a legal scholar, particularly in the fields of constitutional law, administrative law, environmental law, and law and behavioral economics. Sunstein taught at the University of Chicago for 27 years, where he continues to teach as a Visiting Profesor. Sunstein is currently the Felix Frankfurter Professor at Harvard Law School.

(5) Teresa Wynn Roseborough (50 years old) It is widely anticipated that this African-American former Stevens clerk/Gore lawyer/ACS founder is appointed to the Court of Appeals in the first months of a Democratic Presidency. This would be a sign that Obama may consider her for a vacancy on the supreme court.

(6) Leah Ward Sears (53 years old) The African-American Chief Justice, Georgia Supreme Court is also a possibility. She was the first woman and youngest person to ever serve on the Georgia Supreme Court when she was appointed by then Governor Zell Miller (in the days when he was playing with a full deck.) She has an excellent judicial reputation and record.

(7) Sonia Sotomayor (54 years old) This woman of Puerto Rican descent was appointed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton in 1998. She is named as a favorite by many pundits for the first nomination.

(8) Deval Patrick (52 years old) The African American Governor of Massachusetts has a close relationship with Obama. He has no judicial experience, but then again, neither did Governor Earl Warren before he was tapped by Eisenhower as Chief Justice.

(9) Eric Holder--Obama has already announced he will nominate Holder as Attorney General, so a Holder appointment may come down later rather than sooner. He has the credentials, including a stint as a judge in DC, and might be an appealing in-house option for a second or third seat. Involvement in the controversial pardon of Mark Rich would be an obvious target for confirmation attacks.

(10) Barrington Parker, Jr. (64 years old) The African American judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals may be a bit old for an appointment, but his name has been mentioned as a possible nominee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Gumby Vote

It looks like the Minnesota Senate race will come down to the gumby vote, or as the Los Angeles Times phrased it, the Minnesota Senate race "comes down to the votes of several dolts. "As the hand recount of the ballots reaches 78 percent counted, Republican Norm Coleman's lead over Democrat Al Franken stands at 210 votes. What will determine the race is the 3000 challenged ballots. Coleman has challenged 1600 ballots and Franken has challenged 1557 as of 4:35 EST on November 25, 2009.

Minnesota uses optical scan ballots. The voter fills in ovals next to the candidate's name to show their preference, not unlike the forms used on the SATs and other standardized tests. The ballot is counted by placing it into an optical scan machine which counts the vote. Sounds simple, however, errors occur. Some voters don't fill in the ovals completely, some mark their preference in another manner (such as a check next to the candidate name), while others mark two ovals. These votes may or may not be read by the optical scan machines. It is important to note that the vast majority 99 plus percent of ballots are filled out correctly, thus the incorrectly filled out ballots usually don't make a difference, unless the race is very close.

Here are a few examples of the challenged ballots.

Certainly these voters have a little trouble following instructions. These are just five of the 3000 plus ballots which have been challenged so far by both sides. Based on the percentages, it appears that there will be about 4000 challenged ballots. These ballots will be reviewed by the state canvassing board on December 16, 2009. . The board is a five-person panel consisting of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson, Justice G. Barry Anderson, Ramsey County District Court Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin, and Assistant Chief Judge Edward Cleary; they will make a determination of the voters' intent for ballots where either of the campaign's representatives disagree with the election officials at the county sites. Of the five Canvassing Board members, Ritchie is a member of the Democratic Farm Labor Party (that is the Minnesota Democratic Party), two of the judges were appointed by a Republican governor, one was appointed by former Independent Party Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and one was elected in a non-partisan election.

So what this election comes down to is the "Gumby Vote," ---- those voters too stupid to correctly fill out a ballot. Neither party has a monopoly on the Gumby Vote. Each side has it's own percentage of Gumby voters, but we believe one ballot we saw epitomizes the Gumby vote. Here it is:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Millard Fillmore Would Be Proud

In the 1850s, we saw the rise of the Know Nothing Party. Over the last twenty or so years, we have seen a rise in the Know Nothing wing of the GOP. In the battle for the soul of the GOP, the Know Nothings may be winning the battle, and that could mean years of political obscurity and minority political status for years to come.
The Know Nothing wing is lead by the usual suspects, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and now Sarah Palin.

First, a little bit of history. The Know Nothing party was actually named the American Party. Iit was a Nativist political movement that blamed many of the ills in the nation on immigrants. In a time of rising immigrants, this Protestant dominated group feared all immigrants as anti-American. They were particularly troubled by the Irish Catholic immigrants who they believed were beholden to the Pope and not to the United States. There basic beliefs were :

  • Severe limits on immigration, especially from Catholic countries
  • Restricting political office to native-born Americans
  • Mandating a wait of 21 years before an immigrant could gain citizenship
  • Restricting public school teachers to Protestants
  • Mandating daily Bible readings in public schools
  • Restricting the sale of liquor
In 1856, the Know Nothings nominated former President Millard Fillmore. Fillmore came in third. James Buchanan won, and Fillmore received 21.6 percent of the vote and carried only the state of Maryland

2008 Noble Prize winner for Economics and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote in August, 2008. "[K]now-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

OVC characterizes this as "simple answers for complex problems." There are some serious thinkers on the GOP and conservative side like George Will, David Brooks, and Peggy Noonan. Unfortunately, their voices are be drown out by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, and the rest of Fox News. The darling of this movement is Sarah Palin, who has become the de facto leader after the fall of former leader George W. Bush. (Before you say Bush was liberal on immigration, and thus the comparison is false, the rest of his stances fit well in line with the simplistic nature of the Know Nothings.)

First the 21st Century Know Nothings are very anti-immigrant. Immigrants are stealing their jobs, taxing our health care system, collecting welfare benefits, and committing countless crimes. We have to build a wall to keep the new one out and throw the illegal ones who are here out.

The anti-Catholicism is not prevalent in the 21st Century Know Nothings. Catholics have been replaced by Gays, Liberals, the Main Stream Media, and anyone else they consider "anti-American." Representative Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) stated the view which epitomizes the new Know Nothings. When asked by Chris Matthews of Hardball "how many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti-American?" Bachmann responded: "What I would say -- what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that." (Of course, she has since dismissed the comments as "an urban legend.")

Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps giving for the Democrats. Although she is loved by the Republican base, she alienates almost every Democrat and a large number of Independent voters. The base sees her as another Ronald Reagan. She speaks in plain language and does let complicated facts get in the way of her simplistic views. Palin also seems unaware of her shortcomings, instead blaming all her ills on the evil, liberal main stream media.

The GOP has a lot of soul searching to do over the next two and four years. For the Democrats, they hope and eve pray that the soul searching will lead to Alaska and Sarah Palin. Then, Millard Fillmore would be proud.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Goodbye Ted

The longest serving Republican Senator of all time has lost his bid for re-election to a seventh full term. Theodore Fulton Stevens (R-AK) was appointed to the United States Senate by Governor Wally Hickel, upon the death of Democratic incumbent Senator Bob Barlett and was sworn in on Christmas Eve, 1968. Stevens had lost a Republican primary battle for Senate in 1968. That was the last election Stevens would lose until he found out on his 85th birthday (November 18) that he was almost 4000 votes behind Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Yesterday, Stevens conceded defeat.

Believe it or not, sixteen days after the 2008 general election, we still have two Senate seats up for grabs. Incumbent Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is facing a run off election on December 2nd against Democratic challenger Jim Martin, having failed to receive more than 50 percent of the vote on November 4th. The other outstanding race is between incumbent Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Democratic challenger Al Franken. The official count put Coleman ahead by 206 votes. An automatic recount began yesterday, and final results are not expected for a month.

This means that OVC has yet to miss a call in the Senate races. For the casual reader, we have said Franken will prevail in Minnesota, and Chambliss will retain his seat on December 2nd. This leaves the Democrats one seat shy of the filibuster proof number of 60 seats.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hillary 2016

Will she or won't she be he next Secretary of State? OVC believes she will take the job. We believe that SOS Hillary is a win win for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

We are quite impressed with the tone that is being set by the Obama team so far. Reaching out to Hillary is a sign that Obama is willing to bury the hatchet for the good of the country. The situation with Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is also a good sign. If Obama had put out the word to ostracize McCain's campaign buddy, Lieberman would not have survived with his Homeland Security chairmanship in tact. Obama extended the olive branch here, and again we believe that is the correct tone.

Hillary has the intelligence, the temperament, and the toughness to be an excellent Secretary of State. Her views may differ a bit from Obama's, but she knows how to be a good soldier. We expect that she will have the intestinal fortitude to offer her honest opinion when Obama asks her, which we assume will be frequently, but she also has the realistic view of her position to pursue President Obama's policies. Hillary will not go "Palin" on Obama.

Here's how we see it. Hillary may not take this job for purely altruistic reasons. The scenario we see as a possibility is this. Hillary takes the SOS job. Sometime in 2011, Vice President Joe Biden decides not to seek re-election. Obama taps Hillary to be the next VP. Obama/Clinton wins big in 2012. Hillary is ready, willing, and able to run for President in 2016.

Hillary has two choices here --- Be the champion of the long overdue universal health care plan or set herself up for a 2016 run. We believe Hillary wants to be President even more than she wants universal healthcare. Hillary will be 69 right before the 2016 election. That's about the age of Ronald Reagan when he was first elected.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Plus Three Equals Sixty

Buzz is still crunching numbers at his UNIVAC 3000 in the OVC control center, and the Democrats still have a slight chance of getting the 60 seat majority in the United States Senate. There are three seats still up for grabs --- Alaska, Minnesota, and Georgia. All three seats are currently held by incumbent Republicans. If the Democrats win them all, they will reach sixty seats. OVC believes this is a long shot. We called a 59 seat Democratic majority in our pre-election prediction, and we still stand by that number.


Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) failed to garner 50.0 percent, and thus Georgia law requires a runoff between the top two vote getters. Chambliss received 49.8 percent of the vote on November 4th. Democrat Jim Martin received 46.8, and Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley garnered 3.6 percent of the vote. Buckley is out, so Chambliss faces Martin in a December 2nd runoff. The race has attracted national attention, with John McCain stumping for Chambliss this week despite condeming Chambliss' anti Max Cleland ad from 2002. McCain told CNN in 2003 "I'd never seen anything like that ad. Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield -- it's worse than disgraceful. It's reprehensible."

Martin has asked President-elect Barack Obama to campaign for him. As of today, Obama has not said whether or not he will stump for Martin, however he has ordered that his campaign offices in the state remain open to assist Martin. The special election will not see the turnout numbers we saw on November 4th, so an Obama led get out the vote effort may help Matin significantly. OVC still believes that Chambliss will survive the Martin challenge. We also believe that Obama will make a campaign appearance or two for Martin sometime before the December 2nd runoff.


Norm Coleman (R-MN) holds a slim lead of 206 votes over Democrat Al Franken out of the 2.9 million votes cast. That's a lead of .007 percent. This race is headed to a mandatory recount. Republicans have already begun the "vote fraud" cry, because Coleman's lead has fallen from a little over 700 votes on November 5th to the current 206 vote difference. Look for a long battle and the "attorney full employment" act in Minnesota. The recount begins on Thursday, but will not be completed for a month, according to Minnesota election officials.

OVC expects Franken to win, as we predicted prior to the election. We also predicted this race would be close. For political junkies, recounts are heaven on earth. Buzz and I will keep you up to date.


Believe it or not, they still haven't counted all the votes in Alaska eleven days after the election. Incumbent and seven time convicted felon Ted Stevens (R-AK) has a few thousand vote lead on November 5th, but that lead has turned into a thousand plus vote lead for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. A recount is a definite, because it only takes 10 voters to petition the state for a recount when a race is this close. We believe Begich will prevail.

If Stevens, the longest serving Republican Senator in history, manages to pull it out, the full Senate will most likely move to expel him. It takes a two-thirds vote, and it is very likely the Democrats will be able to pick up ten votes from the GOP. If this happens, there will be a special election to fill the vacancy, and we will bet dollars to donuts that Governor Sarah Palin will run.

Bottom line. We see the Democrats going two and one in the final contests. That means the new Congress will stand at 41 Republicans, 57 Democrats, and two independents who will caucus with the Democrats. Yes, we believe Joe Lieberman will remain in the Democratic caucus

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Look Back at Our Favorite Phrases

You betcha! Buzz and I have decided to take a look back at some of our favorite phrases of the 2008 Presidential Election.
They are in no particular order. Sarah Palin gave us a bunch, and Tina Fey and SNL gave us a lot more. So let's get mavericky and start this thing.

Maverick, Mavericky, a Couple of Mavericks This was John McCain's calling card, but Sarah Palin took it to a new height. Maverick became the buzz word for many a drinking game. To paraphrase Joe Biden's famous line from a Democratic primary debate, Sarah Palin's sentences consisted of a noun, a verb, and maverick.

Joe the Plumber Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher is the unlicensed plumber from Holland, Ohio, who became McCain's second running mate. Barack Obama encountered "Joe the Plumber" on a campaign stop in Ohio. Joe told Obama he was planning to buy the plumbing business where he worked. He wanted to know how Obama's tax plan would effect him. Obama used the phrase "Spread the Wealth" in his answer to Joe. McCain jumped on this in the 2nd debate and made Joe a part of his campaign. Fox News turned him into a folk hero. Joe hired a publicist and last we heard he was pursuing a country recording contract.

I can see Russia from my House and Putin rears his Head Palin never said these exact words. Tina Fey did on SNL. But when asked about her foreign policy experience, Palin said that "you can see Russia from parts of Alaska." She did however use the phrase "Putin rears his head" when he comes into American airspace.

That One McCain was speaking during the second debate about some legislation and said something to the effect of "guess who voted for that bill." Then pointing to Obama he said, "that one." Buzz and I saw one of our favorite campaign button. It said, "I'm voting for That One, Obama 08"

Spreading the Wealth and Socialism After Joe the Plumber burst onto the national scene, the McCain campaign couldn't get enough of the "spread the wealth" comment. They characterized it as "socialism" and said Obama was a "socialist" because he wanted to "spread the wealth."

Palling Around with Terrorists McCain tried, but with little success to tie Obama to 1960s/1970s terrorist William Ayers. Ayers belonged to a group the Weather Underground and bombed some buildings, including the Pentagon, in the early 1970s. Obama and Ayers served on an educational board in Chicago (funded by former Reagan ambassador Walter Annenberg.) Palin characterized this as "palling around with terrorists. Obama had no association with "a guy from" his "neighborhood besides the board and was eight years old when Ayers was a Weather Underground member. This attack only played with the conservative base, everyone else saw it for the irrelevance that it was.

Three AM Phone Call This is a primary gem. Hillary Clinton tried to say that Obama lacked the experience to take the "3 AM phone call" about some international crisis. Clinton's attack helped her emphasize Obama's thin resume on the national stage. This strategy couldn't be employed by McCain in the general election campaign, because the choice of Palin made this argument hard to make with a straight face.

Clinging to Guns and Religion Obama's only serious blunder was when he referred to rural Pennsylvanians in particular and small town folks in general as "bitter" and "clinging to guns and religion." Obama admitted that his words were poorly chosen. Clinton jumped on this in the primary, and we believe it became the mantra of Sean Hannity, along with Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, and Socialist. We believe Obama's comments were, perhaps an overarching generalization, but also an accurate social commentary. George W. Bush focused on social issues and ignored everything else when he divided this nation to get re-elected.

Sidekick not a Maverick This was Senator Bob "Cure for Insomnia" Casey's finest moment. When referring to McCain's voting record in the Senate as 90 percent with George Bush, he said, "that's not a Maverick, that's a Sidekick."

This is not an exhaustive list, and we may have some more in the future.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Obama Won

Organization, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and no clear McCain message. These are the major factors in the Obama victory.

Barack Obama had the best ground game we may have ever seen in a Presidential campaign. He built his organization much the same way Howard Dean had done in the 2004 Presidential Primaries ---- through the internet. This organization registered voters in record numbers, they knocked on doors, they made phone calls, they held house parties, and they raised money $5, $10, and $20 at a time. They kept in touch through Obama's version of Myspace (

Obama raised more money than any other candidate in US history. He did this through millions of individual donors. Yes, he had his fair share of max donors ($2300.00 per person,) but the vast majority of his donors gave donations of under $200. Through the October 1, 2008, 3.1 million people had donated to the Obama campaign.

There was a lot of discussion during the primaries that centered on whether or not the long primary campaign against Hillary Clinton would help or hurt Obama. There is now no question that he was helped by that long primary campaign. It allowed Obama to create an organization in every state. That organization was never disbanded, and continued to exist and work all the way through November 4th. It allowed Obama to continue voter registration, continue fundraising, continue making phone calls, continue knocking on doors, and most importantly to get out the vote in early voting and on election day. The extended primary also made Obama grow as a candidate. Hillary threw everything at him, and he withstood the onslaught. It just goes to prove that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

George W. Bush was also the heavy weight anchor that McCain could never shake. He was a constant thorn in the McCain change mantra. Bush so damaged the Republican brand that he was not part of the McCain effort nor the effort of any major Republican candidate seeking election or re-election. McCain was the GOP's best hope, because he had on occasion broken from Bush or at least had an image of breaking with the President.

George W. Bush left us with a $10 trillion national debt, two never-ending wars, an economy in shambles, a terrible image abroad, and an aura of incompetence not seen since the Grant administration. We do not believe any Republican could have won in that environment.

Sarah Palin. What can we say about her that hasn't already been said. Palin was a train wreck. Although she invigorated the base, she alienated everyone else by her utter lack of knowledge. She was everything they used to say about Obama --- an empty suit. McCain took away one of his strongest arguments against Obama by choosing Palin. McCain's questions on Obama's experience came right back to him with Palin.

After the initial fascination with Palin, she became a serious drag on the ticket. Even conservatives like George Will and David Brooks questioned Palin's readiness. She never attracted the disgruntled Hillary voters, and who besides a deluded conservative ever thought she would. She was the anti-Hillary. She was on the wrong side of almost every issue which Hillary held dear. Her stance on abortion was enough to turn the stomach of mos Hillary supporters.

Finally, we turn to the lack of a coherent message. McCain went from "Obama's a celebrity" to "I'm suspending my campaign" to "Obama's a socialist." Every week, if not every news cycle we saw a reinvention of the McCain campaign. The original message of experience versus inexperience rang hollow with the choice of Palin.

Obama, on the other hand, stayed on-message and appeared calm, cool, and Presidential through it all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Missed It By THAT Much

In the words of Maxwell Smart, we "missed it by that much." Last week we gloated over the fact that we had called the electoral and popular vote totals exactly right. It appears that we were one electoral vote off. The final total is Obama 365, McCain 173. We called it Obama 364, McCain 174.

Ok. We know what you're saying. There are no states with one electoral vote. That is true, however, two states split their electoral votes based on Congressional District. Those states are Maine and Nebraska. Maine adopted the split decision law in 1972 and Nebraska followed 24 years later in 1996. Since the change in law, neither state has split its electoral vote.... until now.

Barack Obama had trailed John McCain by 569 votes on Wednesday, but grabbed a 1,260-vote lead in the 2nd Congressional District when early vote totals were added in.

“Today, Nebraska’s 2nd District voters added an Obamaha-shaped exclamation point to Barack Obama’s historic election,” Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) said. “It really is a new day in America when he even picks up an electoral vote in Nebraska.”

The final 5,300 provisional ballots in Douglas County will be considered this week, but those ballots, some of which will be ruled invalid, are not expected to vary much from other Douglas County results favoring Obama. An Obama victory would rack up the first Democratic electoral vote in red-state Nebraska since 1964, when Lyndon Johnson captured the state.

The metropolitan Omaha district is composed of Douglas County and portions of Sarpy County.

Here’s Friday’s unofficial 2nd District count:

• Obama, 134,168.

• McCain, 132,908.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Nation of Mutts

The "Mutt in Chief" spoke yesterday in his first news conference since being elected President. When asked a question about what type of dog he would be getting for his daughters, President-elect Barack Obama responded that because Malia, 10, has allergies, the family wants a low-allergy dog. But Obama said they also want to adopt a puppy from an animal shelter, which could make it harder to find a breed that wouldn't aggravate his daughter's problem. "Obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me," Obama said with a smile. "So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household."

In a press conference which focused primarily on economic issues, Obama's comment added a moment of levity to press conference which began with the entire press corps standing when Obama entered the room. The self-deprecating crack offered an insight into Obama's ability to freely discuss matters of race. It also reminded us of Bill Murray in the 1981 movie Stripes.

In Stripes, Murray is the self-appointed leader of a platoon of misfit soldiers. He gives a pep talk to his fellow basic training com padres, when they face the prospect of having to repeat basic training. He says: "Our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse, the underdog, we're mutts... but there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, that's more lovable than the mutt."

Some had a problem with Obama's mutt remark. Buzz was listening to the parallel universe that's known as the Steve Corbett show on WILK Radio in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. For three plus hours, Corbett and his "bitter" callers characterized Obama's mutt comment as a racial slur. They were outraged that the President-elect would use such a term.

They missed the point. Obama's use of the word mutt was done in the spirit described in Stripes. A mutt is a lovable, loyal, and faithful dog who doesn't have a pure bred pedigree. It describes Obama exactly. The son of a black Kenyan father and white Kansas mother, he met his father only once, was raised by his single mother and grandparents, and worked his way through college and law school. He is everything George Bush is not. Continuing the dog analogy, Bush was a pure bred, from the finest stock. He was the dog you spent $1500 for from the champion breeder. Obama was the dog you found at the SPCA. Obama knows that and he's proud of it. There's nothing racist about that.

OVC advice to Corbett, to paraphrase Sergeant Hulka from Stripes, "Lighten up, Francis."

Friday, November 7, 2008

OVC Hits a Bullseye

Let the word go forth, from this time and place, that OVC called the electoral vote and popular vote correctly on October 21st and in each and every electoral update through election day.
Now Buzz is reprogramming his UNIVAC 3000 to predict NFL games get recoup his monetary losses on a Bob Barr presidency.

Starting with the October 21st electoral update, we said the popular vote would be 53 percent for Obama and 46% for McCain. We also predicted 364 electoral votes for Obama and 174 for McCain. It just goes to show you the accuracy of polling averages. Our analysis was based primarily on RCP averages in both national and state polls, however it did not end there. Most of the states were not really in doubt since the end of September when McCain started a nose dive in the polls, however Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Nevada were close calls.

The following are the October 21st RCP averages [final RCP average] (final results): MO Obama 2.7 [McCain 0.7] (McCain 0.2), NC Obama 1.5 [McCain 0.4] (Obama 0.4), OH Obama + 2.8 [Obama 2.5] (Obama 4.0), FL Obama 2.0 [Obama +1.8] (Obama +2.5), Virgina Obama 8.0 [Obama 4.4] (Obama 4.5), NV Obama 2.3 [Obama 6.5] (Obama 12.5). By the way, we never believed that Pennsylvania was in play for McCain, but McCain had to believe it was if he had any reasonable chance to win.

The two most difficult calls were MO and NC. Even though the October 21st numbers showed Obama ahead in MO, we had real trouble seeing that lead hold for Obama. We almost switched NC to McCain when the polls began to drift in McCain's favor. The magnitude of the Obama victory in Nevada was an emphasis of Obama's strength in the Hispanic community.

Over the next few weeks, we will engage in some Wednesday morning quarterbacking, looking back at 2008 in an attempt to explain how Obama won it or McCain lost it. We will, of course, dedicate some time to one of our favorite subjects --- Governor Sarah Palin. Buzz will also explain why Bob Barr didn't carry a state.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Final Electoral Update

Here’s our final electoral update. Buzz has been crunching numbers all night. (Well most of the night, because he’s also been recording robo calls for Bob Barr.) We have seen a 1.5 percent gain in the RCP national average in the last few days. More importantly, the numbers in the battleground states have not moved to McCain.

If we start with the Kerry states (252) electoral votes, OVC does not see any of these turning to the McCain camp. McCain had his eyes on PA, but the numbers have not moved by any significant way towards McCain. There are four new PA polls today. Obama leads in all of them by 6 to 14 points. In all of these polls, Obama is at or over 52 percent. In other words, McCain will still lose PA if he wins all the undecided voters.

Add to the 252 electoral votes, 7 votes from Iowa (15.3 RCP Average), 5 votes from New Mexico (7.3 RCP Average), 5 votes from Nevada (6.2 RCP Average), and 9 votes from Colorado (5.5 RCP Average) and Obama has 278. Remember 270 is the magic number. So Obama wins without Florida, Ohio, or Virginia. When we add in Virginia (13 EV, 4.3 RCP Average) and Ohio (20 EV, 3.2 RCP Average) Obama gets to 303. Florida (27 EV, 1.8 RCP Average) and Obama hits 330.

McCain’s road to victory has been washed out. For him to win, McCain would have to win every one of the toss up states, and overcome deficits in five out of seven states where Obama leads.

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.

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 (228)

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), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (11), Wisconsin (10).

Solid Obama (50)

Colorado (9), Minnesota (10), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), Pennsylvania (21).

Leaning Obama (33)

Ohio (20), Virginia (13).

Safe McCain (118)

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), 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 (14)

Arkansas (6), South Dakota (3), West Virginia (5).

Leaning McCain (28)

Arizona (10), Georgia (15), Montana (3).

Toss Up (67)

Florida (27), Indiana (11), Missouri (11), North Carolina (15), North Dakota (3).

Solid Obama and Safe Obama (278) Solid and Safe McCain (132)

Obama with Leaners (311) McCain with Leaners (160)

Now here’s our final 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.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Get out the Giant Electronic Maps

In a little more than 48 hours we will start seeing election results. (Actually, Dixville Notch, New Hampshire will vote and announce its results by 12:15 am November 4, 2008.) By 9 pm Eastern Time, we should know with some certainty who will be the 44th President of the United States. I do not expect a long night except for those political junkies like Buzz and me who have bets on the exact electoral and popular vote totals. With the closing of some key East Coast polls by 8 pm, at the latest, we should see some revealing trends.

Here are the poll closure times. All times are Eastern Standard Time. In the case of states that span two time zones, we list the earliest closure time, but please note the following notations. * means the majority of the state polls close at the listed hour. ^ means the majority of polls close one hour later than the listed time.

6:00 pm

Indiana * Kentucky ^

7:00 pm

Florida * Georgia South Carolina Vermont Virginia

7:30 pm

Ohio West Virginia

8:00 pm

Alabama Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Illinois Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan * Mississippi Missouri New Hampshire New Jersey Oklahoma Pennsylvania South Dakota ^ Tennessee Texas *

8:30 pm

Arkansas North Carolina

9:00 pm

Arizona Colorado Kansas * Louisiana Minnesota Nebraska New Mexico New York Rhode Island Wisconsin Wyoming

10:00 pm

Iowa North Dakota Idaho * Montana Nevada Oregon Utah

11:00 pm

California Hawaii Washington

12:00 pm

Alaska *

Here’s what to look for. Indiana is one of the first polls to close. If Indiana goes for Obama, he will win the electoral vote. McCain will not win the election if he loses Indiana, not so much because of the electoral numbers from Indiana, but that an Obama win in Indiana means an Obama tidal wave. If Indiana falls to Obama, many more Bush 04 states will follow. Kentucky will go big for McCain, so we won’t learn much from that. If Obama won Kentucky, McCain might not win another state until Utah and Idaho.

The 7:00 pm hour brings in two bellwether states, Florida and Virginia. If Obama wins Virginia, McCain’s chances of pulling out a victory are very slim. If Obama wins Florida, McCain’s chances are like the old cliché “slim and none, and slim has left town. You may have noticed the asterisk next to Florida. The vast majority of Florida polls close at 7:00 pm EST, and we will be able to tell the Florida victor by Obama’s margin of victory in the Southeastern part of the state and the results from the Interstate 4 corridor.

7:30 brings Ohio. McCain cannot win the election without Ohio. Ohio should be close, but if Obama looks like he’s blowing out McCain in the Buckeye State, that would illustrate a nationwide landslide type electoral and popular vote victory for Obama.

Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania. McCain has put most, if not all, his eggs in the Pennsylvania basket. Polls appeared to have tightened in the Keystone state, but McCain has lead in a PA poll in over a month. If McCain manages to win in Pennsylvania, it may save him from a national embarrassment, but it won’t necessarily mean an electoral victory. It could also mean that electoral victory for Obama may be delayed a few hours. McCain has spent so much time, energy, and money in Pennsylvania that he has short changed other key battleground states.

In short, we will know relatively early in the evening whether this is gonna be an Obama blowout. lists Obama’s chance of a landslide electoral college victory at 29.28 percent. McCain’s chances are 0.01 percent.

McCain has just not closed the gap. In the last three days, Obama’s RCP national average has gone from 5.9% to 6.9%. McCain’s state numbers are mixed. Here are the RCP averages for a number of battleground states. All of these states were won (we use the term loosely for Florida in 2000) by George W. Bush in both 2004 and 2000. Florida (1.5% on 10/22, 4.1 on 11/2), Virginia (7.0 on 10/22, 5.0 on 11/2), Ohio (2.5% on 10/22, 4.2% on 11/2), Colorado (5.4% on 10/22, 5.5% on 11/2), North Carolina (2.0% on 10/22, 0.2% on 11/2), Nevada (3.3% on 10/22, 5.8% on 11/2).

The numbers in these states are relatively close, but Obama has consistently lead in all of these Bush states. It is not good enough for McCain to pick off one or two, he must win them all, because Obama already has close to 270 electoral votes locked up without the swing states listed above.