Monday, December 24, 2012

For One Brief Moment (Our Christmas Wish)

Buzz and I stumbled upon this poem written in the aftermath after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is our Christmas wish.

For One Brief Moment

For one brief moment, not too long ago, there was no hate.
For one brief moment, there was no war, no pain, and no suffering.
For one brief moment, there was no hunger, no tears, and no bigotry.
For one brief moment, there were no arguments, no fights, and no prejudice.
For one brief moment, there was nothing but love, beauty, and compassion.
But as suddenly as that one brief moment appeared, it was no more.
The dreamers among us know that someday that one brief moment
will return and last an eternity.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The time has come to change the gun culture of America

When is enough enough?  The gun loving culture of America has to change and gutless politicians have to start standing up to the NRA.  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

How many children have to die before we realize that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with an individual's unfettered right to own semi-automatic weapons?

The senseless murder of 26 people, including 20 children in Connecticut today is a way too stark reminder that our nation has a love affair with guns that has to stop.

The Second Amendment is straight forward:  "a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."  How this has been perverted to mean that citizens can buy almost any "gun" they want will little or no restrictions is one of the greatest mysteries of modern America.

We will be told that now is not the time to talk about gun control.  It is "too soon."  It is not too soon.  The time is now, because if not now, when?  

We live in a society which glorifies gun violence.  It is without a doubt that the gun loving zealots in the United States will hit the airwaves over the next few days and proselytize that many lives would have been saved if teachers and principles were packing heat.  Bullshit!

It is simple arithmetic, fewer guns means fewer deaths by guns!

The time has come for this country to stop its love affair with guns.  We not only need to institute common sense laws that keep the guns out of the hands of the bad guys and those who are mentally unbalanced, but we have to change the culture to turn those who glorify guns into pariahs.

We have a perfect model for this.  Over the past 30 years we have not only toughened the Drunk Driving laws throughout the nation, but we have totally changed the attitude towards drunk driving.

30 years ago, people looked the other way when one of their friends tried to get behind the wheel after having a few too many drinks.  Today, although a small segment of society still doesn't recognize the dangers of drinking and driving, most of society has turned the "drunk driver" into a pariah.  It is no longer "cool" to drink and drive.

We have to do the same thing with gun violence.  Way too many innocent people have died in this country due to gun violence.  We will never be able to totally stop gun violence, but if we change the culture to demonize the use of guns, we will go a long way to stopping the senseless bloodshed we see way too often.

How many innocent children have to die on the altar of Second Amendment rights before we do something about it? 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Some random thoughts about the year gone by

We know its only the last day of November and most writers wait until the end of December to reminisce about the year gone by, but here's some random highlights.

The GOP primaries

Buzz and I started our primary coverage up North in New Hampshire is early January. It was the first time Buzz and I took the VW Micro-bus into the Granite state for the Presidential Primary.  The nation's first primary was originally held on the second Tuesday in March, but has slowly crept forward in order to be the nation's first primary.  In 2012, it was held on January 10th.

Mitt Romney ended up winning New Hampshire this year, just a week after Rick Santorum's strong showing (and eventual win in Iowa.)  It was Jon Huntsman's first and last stand, and we got to meet former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer in a cigar shop and see fringe comic candidate Vermon Supreme get tackled by security outside a Santorum event.

New Hampshire is a great state for the first primary, because it is so small and most of the events are within a 20 mile radius of Manchester.  It is a political junkie's dream, because most major candidates are still on the ballot, the events are usually small enough that you can actually personally meet the candidates, and downtown Manchester is a virtual who's who of national news figures.  CBS's Bob Schieffer, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Lawrence O'Donnell, and NBC's David Gregory were among the many we bumped into in Manchester.

Santorum and Newt Gingrich were nightmares for Romney.  They both won primaries or caucuses while causing Romney to try to out conservative them.  Rick Perry provided some very comical moments, including his famous "ooops" moment at one of the hundreds of GOP debates.

2016 promises to be even more eventful, because not only will the GOP be fighting it out for the nomination, but there will be a contested Democratic primary.  Don't worry, Buzz and I will be there.  For a political junkie, once you've been to New Hampshire for primary season, you gotta go back.

PA's voter suppression law

In the early Spring of 2012, Pennsylvania's Republican controlled legislature decided to join a number other GOP legislatures across the country and attack the phantom problem of in person voter fraud.  They passed, and Governor Tom Corbett signed a voter photo ID law.

Despite it's lofty purpose of combating in person voter fraud, the true purpose behind this law was expressed by PA House Majority leader Mike Turzai in June, when he told a GOP State Committee gathering that the PA Voter ID law would guarantee a Romney victory in PA by stopping Democratic leaning voters from voting.

The challenges to the law were filed shortly after its passage, and Judge Robert Simpson got it right on the second try.  He stopped the law from going into effect for November, 2012.  A hearing on the future implementation has been scheduled for December.

What we found most telling was despite the fact that study after comprehensive study failed to find any in person voter fraud across the nation, GOPers insisted that in person voter fraud was rampant, especially in heavily Democratic areas like Philadelphia County.  It was also interesting that one third of the members of the PA Voter Hall of Fame (persons who voted in 50 consecutive general elections) didn't have the proper photo ID to vote, and would have been turned away from the polls on election day.

Democratic Sweep in PA

Despite having lost a US Senate seat in 2010, the governorship, and losing ground in both Houses of the PA legislature, Democrats rebounded in 2012, by winning all statewide contests.  Barack Obama, US Senator Bob Casey, and all three state row offices (including the first ever win for State Attorney General) all went handily to the Democrats.  The Democrats even won a majority of votes in the United States Congress races.  Only partisan gerrymandering allowed them to win 13 out of 18n seats in Congress.

Pennsylvania is no longer a swing state in national elections, unless the GOP reinvents itself down the road.  We are still in the words of James Carville, "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in the middle."  The problem for the GOP statewide is that the margins in Democratic areas, particularly Philadelphia County and its suburbs are becoming almost insurmountable.  When the Dems come out of Philly alone with a 500,000 vote advantage, its almost game, set, and match.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seems old Warren is right --- Raise the capital gains tax rate

In 2008, Hilary Clinton spoke of the 3:00am phone call, last night Warren Buffett asked Jon Stewart about the 1:00am phone call.  Buffett asked Stewart if Buffett called Stewart at 1:00am with a spectacular money making idea would Stewart ask him what tax rate he'd have to pay on profits.

Stewart responded by saying, "why are you calling ME at 1:00am?," but the point was well taken.  When it comes to making money, isn't that the point?  Making money, not marginal tax rates.

The true significance of Mitt Romney's unsuccessful Presidential campaign may be in highlighting to Americans the ridiculously low federal tax rate he and many other multi-millionaires pay.  Romney's effective federal income tax rate was under 15 percent for the two years he released, and the reason 2011's rate was lower was that he didn't use all of his charitable deductions.

The reason Romney and other multi-millionaires pay such a low rate is that most of their income is generated by capital gains.  Capital gains or income on investments is taxed at only 15 percent, whereas regular earned income is taxed at 35 percent for the highest income brackets.

Individuals also pay Social Security and Medicare taxes as high as the 15 percent self-employment tax on all income below about $108,000.  These taxes max out at that level.  That means that whereas an individual who earns $108,000 pays $16,200 or 15 percent in additional taxes, someone making $1 million a year also pays $16,200, but only an additional 1.62 percent.

The GOP has argued that the "job creators" (the term the GOP uses to describe the richest Americans) have to have low rates or they won't invest.  Buffett and a growing number of the "job creators" disagree as illustrated in Buffett's 1:00am phone call.

Buffet suggested a capital gains rate of 30 percent on all investment income over $1 million and 35 percent on all investment income over $10 million.  OVC whole-heartedly agrees.  The notion that a 15 percent capital gains tax rate is fair is totally misguided, and anyone who really believes that deficit reduction is important should agree.

We live in a nation where income tax rates are progressive, in that the more money one makes, the higher rate of taxes one should pay.  The two major reasons for a progressive tax rates is one of fundamental fairness that wealthier people have more money to contribute to the general welfare and one that wealthier people get more benefits from the federal government.

This second reason is sometimes very misunderstood.  GOPers tend to think that only the poor benefit from the federal government, but such is not the case.  Wealthy people may not get direct benefits as does someone collecting food stamps, for example.  However, wealthy individuals receive indirect benefits like roads, bridges, student loans and grants for employees, air traffic controllers, national defense, and other big budget items.

The time has come to make capital gains tax rates progressive.  Let's start at 10 percent and make some marginal rates up to 35 percent like Buffett suggested.

*Buzz did not participate in the writing of this post.  He has been on assignment in Colorado and Washington, since November 7th.  He did check in yesterday, but said it felt like he was only gone a few hours.*

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why Romney Lost, The Redux

Mitt Romney may have lost the election, because he was not a true Conservative. We had concluded last week that Romney lost because his Conservative message was rejected by the voters.  Now we feel compelled to offer caveat in "Why Romney Lost, The Redux."

Just to be perfectly clear, we do not believe a true conservative would have won, because the country has drifted away from their agenda.  We do not live in, as we are told by many, a "center right" country.  As a whole, the country is pretty much middle of the road, not drinking the kool-aid on either extreme of the political spectrum.

Die hard conservatives never really trusted Mittens, because we believe as they do, that deep down, Mittens is a moderate Republican.  The self-branded "severely conservative" governor tried his darndest to talk the conservative talk, but could never walk the conservative walk.  When it comes right down to it, you gotta be a true believer to spout off the bat-shit crazy conservative talking points with a straight face.

Evangelical Conservatives

The statistical post election analysis has shown us that 3,000,000 fewer evangelicals showed up in 2012 compared to 2008.  This is due to two interesting factors. 

First of all, there is a significant number of evangelicals who really do believe Mormonism is a cult.  Buzz and I were cornered by one such young, attractive evangelical on a 5 hour flight to Seattle this past summer.  She spent a good hour of the flight explaining to us why Mormonism is a cult. 

Buzz and I are not ones to use anecdotal evidence to prove a broad proposition, but we do believe if you find one Mediterranean Fruit Fly in a California avocado, there may be a million more lurking in the orchard. Romney never addressed his Mormonism ala John Kennedy's seminal speech on Catholicism in the 1960 Presidential campaign or Barack Obama's speech on race in 2008.  Romney never addressed the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Secondly, Romney was Pro-Choice in 1994 when he ran against Ted Kennedy.  The Anti-Choice (Pro-Life) movement doesn't take kindly to anyone over the age of 10 who hasn't recognized the "self evident fact" that all abortion is murder.

We are not naive enough to believe that this group would ever vote for Obama, but the evidence has shown, time and time again, that this group will stay home on election day.  It is sometimes easier to just turn a blind eye to something.  This group has been turning a blind eye to science for years, so turning a blind eye to the election is not that much of a stretch. 

It's the way you tell 'em

Romney's other problem is best illustrated by the following classic joke.

In prison for the first time, George was puzzled by a strange ritual that was carried out at night immediately after the lights were turned off. Someone from another cell called out "Thirty-seven" and the whole block burst out laughing.
A few moments later another distant voice called out "Sixty-one" and again everyone laughed.
"What do the numbers mean?" George asked his cellmate.
"Down in the prison library there's a big joke book. We've memorized all the jokes. So now when anybody wants to tell a joke, they just have to shout out the page number from the book."
George was intrigued and the next day he studied the joke book in the prison library, writing down the numbers of a few good jokes so that he could join in the fun that evening.
That night, George decided to take the initiative. Once the lights had gone off, he called out "Fifty-five." But instead of laughter there was silence. So he tried again. "Eighty-seven." Again there was an eerie silence.
He asked his cellmate: "Why is it that when I call out the numbers, nobody laughs?" 

His cellmate said: "It's the way you tell 'em."        

Romney just never was able to "tell 'em." Yeah, he memorized the lines, but even non-conservatives saw that there was something missing.

Vice Presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan was a different story.  He is a true believer.  Unlike Romney, Ryan was brought up in the Ronald Reagan era, when the moderate Republicans began their swan song. Ryan lives, eats, and breaths conservative dogma, so to him it just naturally rolls off his lips.

**** Buzz did not participate in this post.  He is on assignment in Colorado and Washington state.  His return date is unknown. ****  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2016 Election Preview

Sorry to cut to the chase, but Bill Clinton will be back in the White House as the First Man on January 20, 2017.  Hilary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee in 2016 for President of the United States.  She will also be the prohibitive favorite to win the Presidency.

I can predict this without even Buzz and the Univac 3000.  (Remember, Buzz is on assignment in Colorado and Washington.  His return date, and that of the Univac 3000 is still unknown.)

We can give a little time to the Democratic nomination process.

Democratic Primaries 2016

Once Hillary announces, which will be sometime in the summer of 2015, all serious competition should evaporate.  The 2016 Democratic primary season will be almost as exciting as the 2012 Democratic primaries, although the incarcerated felon might not be on the ballot in West Virginia this time around.
All the serious contenders like Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the 55 or so incumbent Democratic Senators will sit this one out.  We may see a Dennis Kucinich type get his or her name on the ballot in a few states, but for all intents and purposes, the 2016 Democratic nomination process will basically be Hillary running as an incumbent.
With regards to Vice President Joe Biden, Democrats love Biden, but not as President.  Maybe he'll do another eight at VP.  I understand he loves the Naval Observatory.

GOP Primaries 2016
If you enjoyed 2012, the 2016 GOP primaries will be a blast.  We'll see some of the usual suspects, along with some fresh new faces who sat out 2012.
Former PA Senator Rick Santorum will be back for a curtain call.  Remember the GOP has a habit of nominating the first runner up in subsequent elections.  (Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1988, Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008, and Mitt Romney in 2012.)
Santorum is the GOP heir apparent, and aint nobody gonna tell him he aint. I understand that he has already bought a home  on the Iowa State Fairgrounds and has set up a deep fried butter and kool-aid stand.

Showman Donald Trump will again toy with the idea of seeking the GOP nomination, but will have to drop out when it is discovered he was not born in USA, but on the planet Oranganium.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will make another, but drop out before the Iowa straw poll this time.  He will also be on the VP short list, but will be passed over yet again.  Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Texas Governor for life Rick Perry will not run for three reasons.  One, he can't find that Brokeback Mountain jacket he used in his TV commercials, two, poor debate performances, and three,...umh......ahhh...............Oooops.

Former House Speaker Newton Leroy Gingrich just doesn't have the Newtmentum this time around, and Sheldon Adelson might not make it to 2016 due to his health or an FBI investigation into a hit being placed on Karl Rove.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is still reeling from that almost comical State of the Union response a few years back.  I can just envision the commercials of him walking out of the shadows in that Southern mansion time and time again, set to some creepy Halloween music. 

But, on a serious note.  Watch Florida, but not for Senator Marco Rubio.  If his grand foreign policy speech of this past Fall is any indication of his foreign policy gravitas, he's "not ready for prime time."  
Former Florida Governor and brother of W., Jeb Bush has pushed the big tent theory especially with Hispanics, and he is George W. without the cowboy and an elevator that goes to the top floor.

Everybody says New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but unless the GOP makes a sharp turn to the middle, Christie will never make it through the GOP primary and caucus process. There's a large part of the GOP that will blame the 2012 loss on Mittens being a moderate and not conservative enough.  Christie will be seen as Mitt 2.0.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why Romney lost

Not to blow our own horn, but Buzz and I said it in our October 2nd post titled "Here's why Romney will lose in November.We wrote "The powers that be in the current Republican party do not understand a majority of the American people, in general, and the persuadable middle, in specific.  They are locked in a political bubble powered by talk radio and the conservative blogosphere."

The voters proved us right.

The particular issue which is dragging the Republicans towards the ash heap of history is their vitriolic rhetoric on immigration. Building electric fences, self deportation, and fighting any reasonable path to citizenship as espoused in the right wing bubble are not ways to endear yourself to Hispanic voters.

This election, as has been the case with at least the last four Presidential, is fought in the battleground states. In the nine battleground states, (Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin) where the vast majority of the money was spent, Obama beat Romney in everyone except North Carolina.

The voters in these states heard Barack Obama's and Mitt Romney's messages, particularly with regards to immigration, and they rejected the Romney message.  The other 41 sates and the District of Columbia really didn't see much of a fight on either side, and their outcomes were determined a long time ago. 

Unfortunately for the Republicans, this battleground map is not expanding in their favor.   Since 1992, the Democratic Presidential candidate has not won fewer than 251 electoral votes, and the Republican candidate has not won more than 286 electoral votes.

One of the biggest problems for the Republicans is the fast growing Hispanic population.  Every month for the foreseeable future, 50,000 Hispanics will turn 18.  That's 600,000 potential new voters a year, or 2.4 million in four year period.  Republicans cannot expect to win elections if they only win 30 percent of this voting block.

Nevada will not be a swing state in 2016, and neither will Colorado.  Hispanics will push Arizona into the swing state column in 2016 and Texas into the swing state column in 2020.  If Texas becomes a swing state, the Republicans will become extreme long shots in all national elections.

Supply side economics is also dogma within the right wing bubble.  It is argued by our conservative friends that you can't raise taxes on the "job creators."  Job creators is the term coined by the right for those in the highest income brackets.  To everyone else, this group is just known as the rich. "If we just let them keep more of their hard earned dollars, the job creators will create jobs" is the common refrain of conservatives.

The Republicans have always had an image problem with the middle class and poorer voters.  Their perception as the party of the rich was only amplified by Mitt Romney and his contempt for the "47 percent," and it's not because people who voted for Obama wanted "stuff," it's because the Republicans have fought tooth and nail to protect the interests of the job creators. 

If tax cuts to the top one percent create jobs, why didn't the Bush tax cuts create jobs.  Supply side economic policies which the GOP has been pushing for the past 30 years has not created the millions of jobs that were promised.  The decade following the Bush tax cuts have was the weakest decade for economic expansion on record.  This was a fact not lost on a majority of swing state voters.

The only time in this campaign where Buzz and I lost a little bit of confidence in an Obama victory was when "Moderate Mitt" showed up at the first debate.  The long anticipated "etch-a-sketch" moment came on the stage in Denver.  Romney surged in the polls, because the "severely conservative" Mitt of the GOP primaries didn't show up.

This move to the middle is the only chance the GOP has of staying relevant in the future.  The great Conservative experiment is dead, because Conservatism has gone far to the right and has been overtaken by those who control the right wing bubble.  Although the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world believe they are carrying the torch Ronald Reagan, they have taken Conservatism so far right that Ronald Reagan would be a liberal today by their standards.

Conservatism has not evolved.  It has devolved into a modern day "Know Nothing" party.  It is anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual, anti-women, anti-minority, and anti-middle class.  This is a path to irrelevance, and until the GOP changes course, the 2012 Presidential election is not the nadir for the Republicans, but the zenith.

**** Buzz did not participate in this post.  He is on assignment in Colorado and Washington state.  His return date is unknown. ****

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Obama will be re-elected, so says the Univac 3000

After a 60 hour power loss caused by the second 100 year storm in the past two years, Buzz has the Univac 3000 up and running and we're ready to post the OVC Presidential election prediction.  It's Obama in a relatively close popular vote but a rather comfortable electoral win.

It looked a bit scary for Democrats after Barack Obama mailed in the first debate, but although Mitt Romney surged, he never quite overtook Obama.  Romney's "Mittmentum" has disappeared, and Super Storm Sandy pushed a good portion of the undecideds to Obama.  The Univac 3000 calculates that the Sandy factor may account for up to a percentage point gain, which in this election is a heckuva lot, for Obama.

There have been no great swings in this election cycle, and neither candidate has broken that 50 percent mark in national polls, but then again, neither candidate has fall below 45 percent either. Face it, we live in a polarized nation where up to 90 percent of the electorate falls into the unpersuadable category.  This has wreaked havoc on the aging circuits of the Univac 3000.

This may come as a shock to our Republican friends, but not everybody thinks Obama is a Communist or the anti-Christ or hates this country, maybe just 45 percent do.  It may also come as a shock to our Democratic friends that not everybody realizes that Romney is a snake oil salesman, hell bent on his latest business conquest - the Presidency.  Again, only 45 percent understand this.

With that said, let's move on to the predictions.

Safe Romney (191)

Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), and Wyoming (3).

Safe Obama (241)

California (55), Delaware (3), District of Columbia (3), Connecticut (7), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (4), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), New Jersey (14), New Mexico (5), New York (29), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (20), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3),
Washington (12).

The leaning Obama states put him at 271

This leaves 110 electoral votes up for grabs, but as we all can see Obama is much closer to the 270 prize.  Some of the remaining states are very, very close, but a few others are relatively certain.

North Carolina (15) will fall into the Romney column, bringing him to 206.  Likewise, Nevada (6), Wisconsin (10), and Ohio (18) have been consistently polling in favor of Obama, and there is no reason to think they will jump into the Romney column at the last minute.  This puts Obama at 271, which is more than enough, but we still have a few more states to discuss.

First, a few notes on the four we just pushed into their respective columns.

Hispanic Vote and the New South

This is the last election where Nevada will even arguably be a toss up state.  Until the GOP stops the vitriolic anti-immigrant rhetoric, they will continue to get swamped in the Hispanic vote. George W. Bush got 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.  Romney (the self-deportation candidate) will be lucky to break 28 percent.

The Hispanic vote is the fastest growing minority vote in the nation, and the GOP is on the wrong side of this.  Not only will this knock out Nevada, but watch for Arizona to be in play in four years, and Texas to be competitive in eight. (Remember, the anti-immigrant Proposition 187 which passed in California in 1994, solidified the Hispanic vote in California and destroyed any chance the GOP had of capturing this electoral rich state.)

North Carolina is a state which is fighting to shed its Old South image.  The state which regularly elected Jesse Helms to the Senate is now competitive and will only become more competitive for Democrats as the population grows with an influx of Northern moderates and liberals.  Unfortunately for Obama, old habits die hard, and there is still a lot of the Old South in this state.

New Hampshire and Iowa

It is a bit ironic that the two states which start this whole insane process with the first caucus and first primary are still in the too close to call column.  You would think that they would have made up their mind much sooner, because the 2016 campaign begins November 7, 2012.

Iowa (6) has been consistently polling in Obama's favor, so we see no reason why it would unexpectedly shift to Romney. New Hampshire (4), location of one of the many Romney homes, has been all over the map, but recently has been polling in Obama's favor.  The Univac 3000 gives it to Obama.

Colorado and Virginia

Colorado (9) and Virginia (13) has been true toss up states.  They were solidly GOP until Obama snatched them in 2008, and the Univac 3000 puts them in the Obama column again.

Colorado is another state which has a quickly growing Hispanic population, and as we've mentioned before, this does not bode well for the GOP.  Romney pulled ahead in polling in this state after the first debate, but the growing Hispanic population will self-deport Colorado's 9 electoral votes out of the Romney column and right into Obama's lap.

Virginia is a battle of three states.  Northern Virginia (the DC suburbs) and a few other urban areas are solidly Obama, the Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads area is split, and the rest of the state is solidly Romney.

The Obama campaign is pushing for a big margin in its strongholds, as is Romney in his strongholds, so it comes down to the military friendly Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Hampton Road area.  Romney has pandered to this area to such a great degree that it has paled in comparison to his regular pandering.  We are surprised that Romney doesn't arrive in the Newport News shipyard in a battleship.

With all of this said, the Univac 3000 predicts Obama's margins in Northern Virginia will be too much for Admiral Romney to overcome.

Florida, Florida, Florida

It may be Florida, Florida, Florida, but it won't be decisive, decisive, decisive this year.  Florida is the battleground state, which despite its 29 electoral votes just doesn't matter anymore.  The Democrats and Obama have expanded the map so much that Florida will not play the pivotal role it played in 2000 when the Supreme Court awarded it to Bush and made him the 43rd President.

On a fair playing field, the Univac 3000 would award Florida to Obama, however, GOP Governor Rick Scott and the GOP apparatus in the legislature and State agencies have tilted the field in Romney's favor.  Voter purges, restrictive voter registration laws which pushed even the League of Women Voters out of the voter registration business in the state (overturned by the Courts, but too late,) and cutbacks on early voting have severely hurt Obama's chances in the Sunshine State.

The Univac 3000 gives Florida to Romney, not because he won the battle of ideas in the Sunshine State, but because the GOP was able to keep enough Democratic leaning voters away from the polls.

Obama 303, Romney 235

Our prediction is 303 for Obama and 235 for Romney.  The Univac 3000 puts the popular vote total at 50.5 percent for Obama and 48 percent for Romney.  1.5 percent will cast their ballots for a third party candidate.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Utile Plast Candidate

Mitt Romney has proven he can be both plasticy and malleable.  These two qualities are what makes Mitt Mitt.  They are also the qualities which will propel him close, but not quite to the Presidency.

When Buzz and I were in South Carolina doing a pro bono scouting trip for the Chicago Sun at the University of Charleston this past January, we stumbled upon a Mitt Romney rally and decided to stick around. It was a day before the South Carolina primary, and the crowd was excited to see the former Massachusetts Governor.

In a rally highlighted by the appearances of Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Governor Bob McDonald of Virginia, we were able to observe Romney up close and personal.  We came away with one overriding impression:  This guy exudes plastic.

From his smile to his freshly pressed jeans to his automaton wave to his sculpted on hair, he just didn't seem real.  He was, as some commentators have noted, an almost alien or robotic presence. 

And don't think this is just the usual OVC anti-Republican bias, because Buzz and I also met Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Buddy Roemer all up close and personal this past year.  None of them had the same qualities, in fact, Santorum and Roemer both struck these two middle aged former hippies as two real genuine dudes.

But, perhaps plastic is not the most descriptive term would could use, because whereas plastic is quite rigid, Romney the candidate is quite malleable, but in a plastic sort of way.  We turned to the Google to see if both qualities could co-exist in the same product.  We found it.

There is an Australian product which is described as a non-toxic, biodegradable plastic that can be shaped in minutes, is re-useable and is virtually indestructible.  This product is call Utile Plast.

Romney campaigned in the Republican primary as the "severely conservative" former Governor of Massachusetts, but in the past month he has become the Governor of compromise, a Republican Governor of a state with an 87 percent Democratic legislature.  Apparently, just like Utile Plast, both of these qualities did exist in the Governorship of Romney.

He could be considered "severely conservative" in the fact that he vetoed 800 bills during his four years as Governor, but he can also be considered a real "aisle crosser" in the fact that he passed a healthcare reform package with the overwhelming support of Democrats.  (The healthcare reform plan which, by the way, is the model for Obamacare.)

Romney would have been the perfect candidate for the pre-internet, pre-television, per-youtube days, because he caters his message to the crowd before whom he speaks. 

Back in that Golden Age of politics, a politician could cater his message to a particular crowd, because there weren't thousands of people with iphones recording your every spoken word.  This subtlety seems to have been lost on the Romney team.

The most blatant example of this is in Ohio, where Romney must rue the day he penned that infamous "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" editorial.  (Yes, we did read the editorial, and we know that Romney did not pick the title.) Today he says that he is the auto industry's best friend.

The Utile Plast candidate also has the advantage, because of the Republican answer to any criticism of "that's just the liberal media."  So when Romney changes his position on a major issue and the media calls him on it, he just says, "well that's the liberal media."

Romney reaped the benefits of his malleablity after the first debate.  He closed the gap and even passed Barack Obama in a number of national polls.  That momentum and surge has now peaked, and recent polls, particularly in the battleground states, have edged back in Obama's favor.

The Utile Plast candidate just doesn't seem to have enough to push him across the finish line.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Romney gets trapped inside the right wing bubble

Mitt Romney thought he "had him" last night in the second Presidential debate, but he ended up being smacked down by a woman named Candy (one of Buzz's fantasies, but that's another story.)  We're talking about the question of whether or not Obama referred to the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens as an act of "terror" the day after the attack in Barack Obama's Rose Garden press statement.

Romney said that Obama failed to mention that the attack on the Libyan consulate in Benghazi was an act of terrorism the day after the attack.  After Obama said he said it was an act of terrorism in his Rose Garden speech on September 12th, Romney thought he caught the President in a lie.  Debate moderator Candy Crowley instantly fact checked Romney and told him that the President had indeed referred to the September 11th attack as an act of terror.

Romney is new to the right wing bubble, after all, he was "Moderate Mitt" when he ran against Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994 and when he ran for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002.  He failed to recognize one of the most important rules of the right wing bubble:  don't make statements outside the bubble if there's somebody there to fact check you.

Some of the reasons right wing talk radio is so successful is because the radio host controls his or her callers, can drone on for hours unchallenged, and most importantly, controls the microphone.  Rush Limbaugh doesn't have a Candy Crowley instantly fact checking him.

The right wing has been relentless in its attacks on the Obama administration for the Libyan attack on September 11, 2012.  Republican Congressman Darryl Issa (Chair of the House Government Oversight Committee) has even taken to conducting hearings while the rest of Congress is home campaigning for their jobs.  The conclusion they reached before the hearings started was that Obama lied to the American people and engaged in some sort of cover up to hide his foreign policy failures.

Our advice to Governor Romney is to read our primer on right wing talk radio.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Here's why Romney will lose in November

Mitt Romney will lose in November and the reason is simple.  The powers that be in the current Republican party do not understand a majority of the American people, in general, and the persuadable middle, in specific.  They are locked in a political bubble powered by talk radio and the conservative blogosphere.

The Romney campaign is locked in this same bubble, and they have lost their ability to appeal to the voters who will decide this election.  (Whether they ever had that ability it the subject of another post.)

Sometimes our best understanding of politics is through satire.

On February 14, 2009, less than a month after Obama took office, comedic legend Dan Aykroyd made a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live.  He appeared in the opening sketch entitled "Republican meeting."

Aykroyd played then House Minority Leader John Boehner. He led a strategy session with Republican Congressional leaders discussing how they could bring down newly inaugurated President Barack Obama and regain the majorities in the House and Senate.

All of the leaders were convinced that Obama was already a failure, and that the American people were just waiting for the Republicans to pounce on him.  Among the ideas they discussed was impeachment (too early, wait until at least April,) who is the smartest person in America (Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity,) Obama's first Press Conference ("the single most embarrassing appearance by an American President in US history,") and "bringing down" the Obama girls "a notch" (their sleepovers were costing too much money.)

All of these ideas were greeted with unanimous support of the Republican leaders.

Of course the sketch was over the top, but it does illustrate the disconnect between many of the shakers and movers in the Republican party today, particularly Mitt Romney and his campaign.

A majority of Americans personally like President Obama.  A majority of Americans don't believe that the economic troubles we are experiencing in 2012 were caused by Obama.  A majority of Americans generally believe that Obama has tried to fix the awful mess he inherited from President George W. Bush.  And, a majority of Americans don't sit on the edge of their seats waiting for Limbaugh or Hannity to impart them with words of wisdom.

Romney is losing in almost every poll on a national level and doing even worse in the 10 or so battleground states which will decide this election.  And don't believe those who tell you the pollsters are in the tank for Obama.  Pollsters want to be as accurate as possible (that's how they get work in the future,) and, believe it or not, some of the pollsters are Republicans.

The polls remained relatively stagnant until around Labor Day, but Romney was generally behind.  Since Labor Day, Romney's polling numbers have not been good.  There has been a general trend towards Obama, particularly in the battleground states.

The shift in the battleground states should be particularly troubling to Romney, because that's where the Romney campaign and its allies having been spending time, money, and effort.  The non-battleground states have been ignored by both sides, and those numbers appear to be stagnant.  Where Romney is getting out his message (as well as Obama getting out his,) Obama is moving ahead.

Romney's message is not resonating with voters.  His message, may in fact, be turning voters off. 

Romney did have some truth in his now infamous "47 percent" comments.  He is correct, give or take a few points, that at least 47 percent of Americans cannot be persuaded and will vote for Obama, but 47 percent of Americans, give or take a few points, cannot be persuaded, and will vote for him.  The $64,000 question is "For whom will that 6 to 8 percent of persuadable voters cast their ballot."

The over the top and visceral anti-Obama rhetoric of the Romney campaign will not persuade the persuadables.

The first Presidential debate is tomorrow night.  For our Republican friends, let's hope Romney tones it down a bit.  For our Democratic friends, let's hope he keeps it up.  And finally, for our "persuadable friends," we hope you enjoy a few new episodes of "Storage Wars."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pennsylvania Supreme Court has to grow a few

 Judge Haller says it's judicial restraint, a Court giving great deference to the state legislature, but to Buzz and me, it's a lack of chutzpah. C'mon call a spade a spade, or as we said in our last column, call a duck a duck.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court punted the Pennsylvania Voter ID law back to the Commonwealth Court. Justices Debra Todd and Seamus McCaffrey at least had the brass to call it like it is.  They would have thrown out the law for what it is --- a partisan political ploy to disenfranchise Democratic leaning voters.

McCaffrey was animated at the oral argument and was eloquent in his support of the right to vote by all citizens, regardless of the size of their wallet.

"I was elected by the people of our Commonwealth, by Republicans, Democrats, Independents and others, as was every single Justice on this esteemed Court," McCaffrey wrote.   "I cannot now be a party to the potential disenfranchisement of even one otherwise qualified elector, including potentially many elderly and possibly disabled veterans who fought for the rights of every American to exercise their fundamental American right to vote."

"While I have no argument with the requirement that all Pennsylvania voters, at some reasonable point in the future, will have to present photo identification before they may cast their ballots, it is clear to me the reason for the urgency of implementing Act 18 prior to the November 2012 election is purely political.  That has been made abundantly clear by the House Majority Leader.  I cannot in good conscience participate in a decision that so clearly has the effect of allowing politics to trump the solemn oath that I swore to uphold our Constitution.  That Constitution has made the right to vote a right verging on the sacred, and that right should never be trampled by partisan politics," McCaffrey concluded.

This law, like many of others passed by GOP controlled legislatures across the country, is a blatant attempt to stop Democratic leaning voters from voting.  IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PROTECTING THE INTEGRITY OF ELECTIONS.  The Commonwealth admitted this when it stipulated that in person voter fraud doesn't exist, and they didn't see it occurring in the future.

Elections should be decided by a vigorous discussion of the ideas and getting as many voters as possible to the polls.  It should not be decided by keeping voters who disagree with you away from the polls.

We should make voting as easy as possible.  Instead of passing laws that restrict voting, the legislature should be passing laws that expand voting --- like early voting, same day registration, and other laws that increase voter participation.

Throughout our nation's history we have expanded the franchise to African-American citizens, to women, to 18 year olds.  Since when did it become the vogue to start restricting the franchise?  Perhaps when political consultants realized that certain groups can be kept away.

The right to vote is sacred.  It is our way to change the direction of the country, to change the laws, to make things better.  Let's stop playing games with the precious right for which so many of our forefathers gave their lives.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pennsylvania Voter ID, will the GOP Justices give it a wink and a nod

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it could be a dragon doing a duck impersonation. Will the PA Supremes call a dragon a duck.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments on the new Photo Voter ID law yesterday.  It is apparent that the three Democratic Justices (Seamus McCaffrey, Debra Todd, and Max Baer) all see the political motive behind this law. To paraphrase GOP House leader Mike Turzai, the new law will allow Romney to win Pennsylvania.

The question as we see it is whether the three GOP Justices (Ronald Castille, Michael Eakin, and Thomas Saylor) will see it that way, or will they hide behind the the technical and rigid preliminary injunction case law as Judge Robert Simpson did in the Commonwealth Court.

Buzz and I met with OVC legal expert former Judge Chamberlain Haller at his summer retreat in the Poconos. Haller had some interesting observations on the pending case before the PA Surpemes.

"I watched the argument on PCN yesterday and I saw a glimmer of hope for the opponents of this law," Haller said while enjoying an unfiltered Camel and contemplating his next chess move.  "Justice McCaffrey and Justice Todd were openly lobbying their Republican colleagues during the oral argument.  They kept saying, 'what's the rush?'  This was a clear indication that the Democratic Justices are offering a way out for their GOP colleagues."

"Generally Courts like to decide cases on the narrowest grounds possible, especially in controversial cases.  The 'what's the rush?' strategy would allow the Courts to grant a preliminary injunction without reaching the merits of the law.  They could kick the can down the road a bit and see what happens with photo ID efforts over the next six months," Haller said.

This brought a smile to our faces.  There may be a middle ground which stops the disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters.  Hope springs eternal.

It is undisputed that in-person voter fraud simply does not exist  in Pennsylvania, or for that matter, anywhere in the United States.  Study after study has shown that you have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than someone voting in-person for someone else, and remember, that is the only thing that this new photo ID law is attempting to prevent.  

It won't stop absentee ballot fraud.  It won't stop voter registration fraud.  It won't stop election officials from tampering with election results.  And it won't stop the buying of votes.  The only thing it will stop is eligible voters without the proper ID from voting, and this includes many minority voters, many poor voters, and a whole bunch of older voters from casting ballots.

One of the major arguments that Buzz and I hear the most in support of a Photo ID requirement to vote goes like this:  "You need photo ID to buy beer, to cash a check, to buy Sudafed, or to get on an airplane."

Here's where that argument falls apart.  Underagers try to buy beer, criminals try to cash forged checks, Meth manufacturers try to buy Sudafed, and terrorists try to get on airplanes.  All of these actions have been documented time and time again.  That's why we require ID for these everyday interactions.  In-person voter fraud, on the other hand, is simply not a problem

A decision is expected within the next few weeks.  Let's hope the Court does the right thing and stops this clearly partisan and politically motivated law.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bubba is back!

Bill Clinton stormed into Charlotte last night and brought down the house. He's back, and take it from Buzz and me, he's here to stay.

It was pure Bill Clinton --- dramatic, inspiring, persuasive, folksy, and of course, way longer than planned.  But, most importantly, it was directed to the middle of the electorate, a part of the electorate where Bill Clinton has always been effective in communicating his message.

He set the stage with one of the most memorable moments of his speech, he explained that the hyper-partisanship and personal attacks against him that plagued much of his Presidency, did not leave him bitter.  He said, "Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats."

Clinton's speech which lasted 48 minutes was the most effective defense and explanation of the Obama record.  Unlike New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's "me, me, and ME" speech at last weeks GOP convention, Clinton's speech was heavy on his party's nominee.  He brilliantly intertwined his legacy with the Presidency of Barack Obama, and then took on every major GOP argument and explained, in simple, folksy terms, why the GOP argument is wrong.

In a stern, but no means angry tone, Clinton said, "President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No president— not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years."

He explained the Affordable Care Act in simple and effective terms, highlighting many of the Act's very popular parts. He explained the recovery act and how it truly helped the US avoid a Great Depression.  He explained the success of the auto bailout and the tragic consequences of letting "Detroit go bankrupt."

His systematic attack on the GOP arguments included this:  "Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as, quote, “the biggest, coldest power play,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry... because that $716 billion is exactly to the dollar the same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget!"

Then he went off script and gave perhaps the most memorable line of the speech.  "You got to give (Ryan) one thing: It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did."

Clinton hit a home run and lived up to expectations.  He is Obama's greatest surrogate, and we will see a lot of him in the next 60 days.

Hillary 2016

Clinton is not just acting altruistically, although we don't doubt that he truly believes in most, if not all of the Obama agenda.  Clinton does have a selfish motive, too  --- Hillary 2016.

I am convinced, and Buzz's Univac 3000 bears me out on this, Hillary will run in 2016 regardless of who wins in 2012.

Bill wins no matter who wins in 2012.  If Obama wins, Bill will humbly take credit for making the difference.  If Obama losses, Bill can also humbly say that he gave it the old college try.

Hillary has already said she will step down at the end of her four year tenure at the State Department.  She has been an unqualified success at State, and now she needs to start preparing for 2016.

Hillary will take it easy for a few months, and then expect to see her all over the country.  She won't be an official candidate until mid 2015, but she will be provided enthusiastic support for Democratic candidates everywhere.  Whether it's recording TV or radio spots, speaking at Jefferson-Jackson dinners, raising money, Hillary Clinton will be around every corner.  She will be the biggest cheerleader for any Democrat who wants her, and want her they will.

Stay tuned for a lot of Bill over the next few months, and then coming to political events everywhere, sometime next summer, Hillary Clinton.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back in the 1980s

Buzz and I spent part of the Labor Day listening to historical speeches on the POTUS radio channel.  I won a 2 year subscription in a WNBA trivia contest (no purchase necessary.) We listened to a 1987 speech by President Ronald Reagan.  Reagan was touting 59 months of economic prosperity, so we decided to look back at some of the economic policies in place back in 1987 as compared to 2012.

Tax Rates

From 1982 to 1986, the highest marginal tax rate was 50 percent and 38.5 percent in 1987.  The capital gains tax rate was 20 percent from 1982 to 1985 and 28 percent from 1985 to 1990.

Republicans have fought tooth and nail to extend the Bush income tax cuts, especially when it came to the highest marginal rate.  They even went as far as voting against a bill in the United States Senate that extended all the tax cuts except the cut on the highest marginal rate.  (Bush's tax cuts reduced the highest marginal rate from 38.6 percent to 35.0 percent.)

The current highest marginal tax rate stands at 35.0 percent, and the capital gains tax rate is 15 percent and has not been about 16 percent since 2003.

Perhaps Republicans who worship everything Reagan should consider returning to the Reagan tax rates, particularly the capital gains rate, since after all, that's the tax that the job creators pay.

Welfare Queens

Reagan famously spoke of the "welfare queen."  He said, "(S)he has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000."

The welfare queen never really existed, a product of Reagan's speech writer's imagination, but welfare or public assistance was quite different in the Reagan years.  There was no work requirement, and there were no limits on the time a person could collect welfare.

All of this changed with the Welfare Reform Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.   As Bill Clinton said the act "ended welfare as we know it."

The new law required persons to work after receiving two years of benefits and placed a five year lifetime limit on welfare benefits.  Despite Romney claims that President Barack Obama has gutted the work requirement, he hasn't.  So welfare today does have those restrictions from 1996.

Maybe nostalgic Republicans would like to go back to the Reagan era welfare for life with no work requirement.

Investment Banks

Until 1999, there was a clear dividing line between what banks could and couldn't do when it came to investments.  As a result of the excesses of the 1920, the federal government passed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.  This Act prohibited depository banks from gambling on investments in the stock market.

Glass-Steagall survived until 1999, when Congress decided there was no need to separate these banking practices.  Republican Senator Phil Gramm (TX) and Republican Representatives Jim Leach (IA) and Thomas Bliley (VA) sponsored legislation that tore down the barrier.  There was no longer a distinction between depository and investment banks.

Depository banks could now play the market, and play the market they did.  After 8 years of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law, banks had invested in so many toxic and risky investments that they almost brought the world to economic disaster.  The situation was so dire that even President George W. Bush, a self-professed free market lover, pushed for an $800 billion bailout of the Wall Street banks.

Most of the economic woes we are still experiencing in 2012 can be traced back to the banking debacle of 2008.  Even Ronald Reagan realized that banks gambling in the stock market was not a good idea.

Back to the Future

So the next time someone tells you about the glory years of Ronald Reagan and his great economic recovery, tell them you agree that it was a great time --- higher taxes, particularly on investments, no limits on welfare, and highly regulated banks.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't confuse us with the facts, our minds are made up

Buzz and I have been watching the GOP convention in Tampa, and we've been following the campaign ads.  It appears that the facts are not going to get in the way of the Romney-Ryan campaign.

"We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said recently at a panel organized by ABC News.

We built it

Republicans were so excited when Obama explained that businesses in the United States used the government, by the way of infrastructure, public schools, tax policy, government grants, and the like, to create and build their businesses.  When Obama said, "You didn't build that," Republicans pounced.  They made the "you didn't build that" a cornerstone of their campaign. (See Obama "You didn't build that" speech in context.

All of a sudden, Obama's words became an attack on capitalism.  Instead of accepting the truism of Obama's words for what they were, Republicans said Obama was saying the government built businesses.

Mitt Romney and Republican Super PACs produced and aired ads with irate and angry business people explaining how they built their small businesses on their own, without the help of the damn government.  The hypocrisy of their statements became readily apparent.

The star of one of the early ads admitted that he owed a lot of his success to a public school teacher who inspired him, the government created internet, and the roads and highways built by the government.  Upon further reflection and scrutiny, other "self-made" businessmen from the slew of  the  "We Built It" commercials, it became apparent that many of this "self-made" business owners relied heavily on favorable tax policy, government contracts, government loans, and our government built infrastructure.

Of course, when asked for further clarification, many Republicans said, "well that stuff was paid for by our taxes."  Well, duh, that's obvious.  Taxes pay for government projects and people pay taxes.  That argument falls flat when it comes to government policy.

Republicans have lashed out at infrastructure spending for years.  The Republicans of today are the first in line to oppose any and all government spending, excepting defense spending, and throughout the past 75 years, Republicans have generally opposed all public works projects and any spending on things like public education.

Welfare Queens 

The other big lie being propagated by the GOP is that President Obama has gutted the welfare work requirement. Romney has put out a multimillion dollar ad campaign to hammer this allegation home. Like the Ronald Reagan "welfare queen" story, to borrow from REO Speedwagon, "talk is cheap when the story is good."

It is quite ironic that at a convention where keynote speaker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Republicans don't rely on polls to stake out their positions and policy, that the Romney-Ryan people are doing just that.

The "Obama gutted the work requirement for welfare" line polled very well with focus groups, particularly with White working class voters.  The fact that Obama did not waive the work requirement is irrelevant to the GOP argument.  After all, talk is cheap when the story is good.

The well-respected Annenberg Public Policy Center, a non-partisan that fact checks political claims, said this about the Romney ad.

A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted “a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.” The plan does neither of those things.
  • Work requirements are not simply being “dropped.” States may now change the requirements — revising, adding or eliminating them — as part of a federally approved state-specific plan to increase job placement.
  • And it won’t “gut” the 1996 law to ease the requirement. Benefits still won’t be paid beyond an allotted time, whether the recipient is working or not.
Annenberg is not the only fact checking group that has determined Romney's welfare charges to be absolutely false, but none of this has stopped Romney from pushing his fictitious claim.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Persuadables

Buzz and I have come to a saddening conclusion.  This year's Presidential election will be decided by people who really don't give a damn about Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Unlike Buzz, me, and all of our readers, the people who will decide this election just aren't engaged in politics now or probably ever. 

Buzz begins his day by pouring over all the latest polls and punching that data into the Univac 3000, checking for subtle changes which might give him even the smallest insight into electoral trends.   He then takes this material and produces a multitude of charts, diagrams, and graphs to supplement the OVC Daily Briefing memo.  All of this is presented at the morning staff meeting.

I begin my day by checking the latest WNBA news and setting my lineup for my WNBA Fantasy Basketball team.  I don't mean to brag, but I've won the league seven years in a row, but I digress.

Poll after poll in the last few months have consistently shown two things - each candidate has a floor percentage of which they seldom, if ever drop below, and a ceiling, of which they never rise above.  Most changes in the individual polls can be attributed to statistical sampling variations.  In other words, poll results vary greatly depending on who you sample.

The trick to good polling is to tailor your sample to represent the voting public as a whole.  If you have too many Democrats in your sample, your poll win inflate Democratic numbers, and vice versa if you include too many Republicans.  So what the pollsters do is massage the numbers to reflect past voting trends and put forth a calculated guess as to how the raw data collected translates into the numbers they release in the poll.

Some polling outfits are run by Democrats or liberal leaning folks, and some are run by Republican or conservative folks.  These polls may favor the political leanings of the folks conducting them, or contrary to what would seem to be common sense, may tend to overcompensate for the pollsters' biases and lean in the opposite direction of the pollster. 

After all, pollsters do not make money from the general public on their polling, they make money by the candidates or organizations who commission the polls.  The more accurate the polling results are, the more chance the pollster has of getting work.

With all of this said, Buzz tells me that if we averaged out all of the polls, a sort of poll of the polls, we'd be able to minimize the individual prejudices and biases of the pollsters.  I told Buzz that RealClearPolitics has already done this.

The RCP average of polls is an excellent source of information, and believe it or not, it has been a very accurate predictor of election results over the past ten years.  RCP does include what the pollsters refer to as an outlier (a poll that seems to be out of whack with all the others,) but do to the averaging of all the recent polls, an outlier won't throw the numbers off that much.

Over the past few months, there has been very little variation in the numbers.  Obama's numbers have ebbed and flowed, as have Romney's. Neither has dropped below the middle to low forties, and neither has jumped above the mid to high forties. 

What this means is that both of the major party candidates are guaranteed to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 percent of the vote come November. The trick is getting at least 51 percent of the remainder.

These undecideds are what this election is all about.  They are referred to as the swing voters, but Buzz and I like to call them the Persuadables.  Whoever wins the majority of these voters will win the election.

This presents two issues as Buzz and I see it.  First, you gotta identify these voters, and number two, you gotta convince them that you deserve their vote. 

We'll talk more about how this works later.  Gotta get to the morning meeting.