Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don't Lose This Opportunity

This election isn't about Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, William Ayers, Islam, Socialism, or any of the other nasty and hypocritical tenets of the McCain campaign. It's about you. The opportunities for you and your family. Your healthcare. The Schools and Colleges that your children will attend. It's about your country and its noble place in the world as the greatest nation on earth.

Don't lose this opportunity. Don't let the Republican's manipulate you.

Are you better off than you were 8 years ago? Do you have more money in the bank? If you run a small business do you have more customers or less? Does your healthcare cost much more or less? Do you feel more or less optimistic about the future of your children?

This election is a choice between change, or more of the same. I understand that people are cynical, but there comes a time when if you're unwilling to take a chance then there is no hope for any of us. Things cannot get any worse than a collapsing economy, national debt that has more than doubled, a deficit that is skyrocketing, unemployment that is on the rise, and housing prices plummeting. Things can only get better... if we have the courage to change.

6 Days

Zogby trends Obama by a small margin, Rassmussen trends McCain down to only +3, Gallup trends Obama... I wish this damn election were over. I dreamt that McCain had won the election last night. A couple days ago I said Obama had to win by a large margin to guarantee his mandate. Right now I'd take any type of victory.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Contrasting polling in 2008 to 2004 and 2006

Here is an interesting graph showing the RCP tracking poll average from 2004.
For those like me, who are stressing out big time with the election only a week away, it's reassuring to see that Bush's lead against Kerry was consistently smaller than the lead Obama is sustaining over McCain. I haven't seen McCain ahead in a single poll since September. Here is a list of the actual poll numbers leading up to the election in 2004.

With so much divergence from pollsters trying to assess the make up of electorate this year it's also fascinating to take a look at the projections for the 2006 senate races, compared to the final results. Here are the numbers.

In the 2006 election in Arizona the Republican performed 0.4% better than the RCP average. In Maryland the Democrat performed 5.3% better. In Michigan 1.5% to the Democrat, Minnesotta 3.4% to the Democrat, Missouri 0.5% to the Democrat, in Montana 2.4% to the Republican, New Jersey 1.6% to the Dem, Ohio 2% to the Dem, Pennsylvania 5.5% to the Dem, Rhode Island 5% to the Dem, Tennessee 3% to the Dem, Virginia 1.2% to the Republican, and Washington State 5.7% to the Dem.

It seems as though in the traditionally Democratic states, Democratic turnout considerably exceeded expectations. I think we're going to see something very similar this election. I live in California, and even though this state isn't competitive everyone I've been in contact with is extremely enthusiastic about casting their vote as if it was potentially decisive. One wonders whether the same can be said in traditional red states like Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, etc, where Obama doesn't have a shot. For that reason, based on the numbers above you could safely argue that Obama will poll at least 1-2% better in the nationwide popular vote. Of course undecideds are probably going to break narrowly for McCain so this might end up being a wash.

Additionally, it's good to see that in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Democrats also out performed their polling in 2006. I think this bodes well for Obama in both of those states, but especially Pennsylvania where he currently has a double digit lead in the polls.

The bad news is that in the competitive red states, Montana, Virginia, and Arizona, the swing went in the opposite direction. As Republican's rallied towards the end of that election it was noticeable just how close both Democrat, Jon Tester in Montana (who had been widely favored to beat Conrad Burns) and Jim Webb (who had opened up a decent lead in some polls against George Allen) came to losing their races. From this you could argue that Republican turnout in Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona might be much higher than is expected. Florida is anyone's guess.

The geographic diversity of these trends is what I think has to be taken into account with the current polling. For example Pew has Obama up by 15, Gallup by 7 in their expanded model, Hotline by 8, and Research 2000 by 7, nationally. By comparison Gallup's traditional polling model has Obama up by only 2, and TIPP, Zogby, and Battleground have him up by 3-4 points. Their turnout models are probably all correct, but geographically relative. This is a big country, some parts of which have been harder hit by the economy. I think it's fair to assume we're going to see different things happen in different parts the nation come November 4th.

Obama had a magnificent week by any estimation last week. From Colin Powell's endorsement, to the $150,000 spent on clothes for Palin, the infighting between McCain and Palin, it helped Obama reverse a trend that was heading in McCain's favor. State polling is a lagging indicator of the national mood and I think the extent of the leads you're currently seeing for Obama in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, etc, are as a result of his successes last week.

By contrast, Obama had a poor weekend, and a terrible Monday this week, in my opinion. His campaign have a habit of losing their focus and reverting back to the very general bi-partisan optimism that doesn't translate well into soundbites on the evening news, and it doesn't come close to controlling the national conversation. Obama needs to be on the offense in making focused attacks on McCain. Right now the McCain campaign has free reign to throw their ridiculous bombs at Obama because he doesn't have to compensate for any of Obama's attacks. As far as I'm concerned every sentence that comes out of Obama's mouth from now until election day should include the words Bush and McCain. Obama has earned 50% + support, but now he has to ensure that the right wing attack machine doesn't have the leverage to re-brand Obama as a Marxist, terrorist, muslim, manchurian candidate that is only going to make the economy worse (as if that were possible).

However, today the right were unable to sustain that momentum. A McCain campaign source calling Palin a "whackjob" certainly didn't help. That is a good sign for Obama. Zogby's latest tracking poll will be out very shortly and while this should generally reflect Monday's narrative, if there is no trend for McCain that will be a good sign for Obama. Likewise, watch Gallup tomorrow, the most consistent indicator of the direction of the national mood, in my opinion, this campaign season. McCain's only hope is day in, day out, incessant negativity against Obama. Hopefully Bill Clinton campaigning with Obama in Florida tomorrow and the 30 minute prime time advertisement that airs tomorrow evening will assist Obama in preventing that from occuring.

UPDATE: Zogby shows Obama gaining 0.4%.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Almost There


Palin Ally, Senator Stevens Is Guilty!

Alaskan, Republican Senator, Ted Stevens, close colleague of Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin, has been found guilty on seven counts of making false statements for not reporting gifts. Great timing :).

"I have a great deal of respect for him," - Sarah Palin on Ted Stevens:

UPDATE It gets better: "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin began building clout in her state’s political circles in part by serving as a director of an independent political group organized by the now embattled Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Palin’s name is listed on 2003 incorporation papers of the “Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.,” a 527 group that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors. The group was designed to serve as a political boot camp for Republican women in the state. She served as one of three directors until June 2005, when her name was replaced on state filings."

UPDATE There's more:

UPDATE It gets better: From Sarah Palin's comments today on Senator Stevens' guilty verdict: "I'm confident that Senator Stevens from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska."

Democrats Are Getting Ahead Of Themselves

I am a terrible pessimist and even I can see that Obama is very, very, very close to winning the Whitehouse on November 4th. But, to read most left leaning blogs, or listen to pundits on cable news, you'd think this race was over and November 4th was merely a formality. It's not. Obama leads by an average of 6 points, with a few polls like Battleground and TIPP having him ahead by only 3. We've been here before, with Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and I'm very concerned we're heading for a similar end result this election day with John McCain.

The truth is, yes, Obama has all but wrapped up victory. Just as, during the primaries in Texas and Ohio he'd essentially already won the Democratic nomination.

The reason he has wrapped up victory is simple: Pennsylvania and Virgina. Currently puts Obama up by almost 13 points in Pennsylvania, and by almost 9 points in Virginia. These results constitute insurmountable leads in the last week of a Presidential campaign. Combined with the fact that in the Virginia Senatorial race Democrat, Mark Warner, is running 30 points ahead of his Republican rival, I just don't see how John McCain can overcome his deficit in the state.

With Obama set to hold onto all the states that Kerry won in 2004, with the possible exception of New Hampshire, he is also set to win Iowa and New Mexico (where he has led throughout this election season). If Obama wins Pennsylvania, Iowa, Virgina, and New Mexico then there is no realistic route via which McCain can get to 270 in the electoral college and Obama is President.

McCain's team would do well to spend the rest of this week in Virginia because make no mistake, it is the only state that truly constitutes a bellwether battleground this election. It is the be all and end all of victory for McCain.

So why I am fretting? Simple. If Obama wins the election by barely a percentage point in the popular vote, and narrowly loses Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, and Indiana then, just as Hillary's comeback ultimately served as a rebuke, so will McCain's performance exceeding expectations. Obama will be President and everyone will celebrate, but change, even after George Bush's disastrous eight years in office, will be a struggle when his Administration begins in 2009, as George Bush quickly found out in 2005 following his narrow victory against Kerry.

If Obama simply stumbles across the finish line late in the morning, waiting for results back from New Mexico, the symbolism of this victory will be mitigated and the right wing attack machine will be energized. They will know that, even in these circumstances, with everything working against them, their ideas discredited, and their Presidential campaign run poorly, the Democratic candidate, wholeheartedly loved by his base, could only muster a closely fought victory. They will rightly see 2010 and 2012 as an opportunity to emphatically set the record straight.

The opportunity of this election is to not only win, but to earn a decisive mandate for governance, and to leave the Republican party fractured and in tatters, fighting amongst each other for the right to control their party's identity. If Obama can win by at least 5 percentage points in the popular vote, and win Ohio, Florida, and a host of other states, the message of change will be an earthquake that permanently transforms the political landscape in this country. By contrast, the far right, the religious right, the fiscal conservatives, and the moderate Republicans will be at war for the next two years trying to wrestle control over their own party. If this kind of margin fails to materialize, Obama could be on the back foot from day one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Wassuppp..." Change

A Sense Of Entitlement Runs In The McCain Family

Joe McCain, John McCain's brother, calls 911 to complain about traffic:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What McCain Really Thinks About Joe The Plummer

From his position on the Bush tax cuts, to his negative campaigning flip flop, and his selection of Sarah Palin, undermining all the central tenets of his candidacy, John McCain has made John Kerry look like the model of consistency this campaign season. However, this example below is the worst demonstration of his electioneering yet, in my opinion. Watch as John McCain goes much further than Barack Obama in a response to a questioner posing an identical inquiry to that of Joe The Plummer. Enjoy:

Keep in mind, McCain is justifying a tax code in this video that is far more progressive than the comparitively conservative tax code that Obama is proposing.

John McCain = Socialist?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The State Of The Race

This is my assessment of the Presidential race as it stands today. Below are the latest numbers from the daily tracking polls (yesterday's numbers are in parentheses):

Research 2000 (10/17-10/19): Obama 50 - McCain 42 (Obama 50 - McCain 43)
Rasmussen Reports (10/17-10/19): Obama 50 - McCain 46 (Obama 51 - McCain 45)
Zogby (10/17-10/19): Obama 50 - McCain 44 (Obama 48 - McCain 45)
Hotline (10/17-10/19): Obama 47 - McCain 42 (Obama 48 - McCain 41)
Gallup - Traditional (10/17-10/19): Obama 50 - McCain 45 (Obama 49 - McCain 46)
Gallup - Expanded (10/17-10/19): Obama 52 - McCain 43 (Obama 51 - McCain 44)
Tipp (10/15-10/19): Obama 47 - McCain 41 (Obama 47 - McCain 42)
Battleground (10/13-10/19): Obama 49 - McCain 45 (Obama 49 - McCain 45)

There are many divergent opinions from pollsters about party identification and that explains the disparity you are seeing in some of the results. For example, some pollsters are using conservative models like Zogby, employing party identification percentages from 2004 that favor Republicans. Others, like the Daily Kos/Research 2000 tracking poll, are optimistically projecting a huge Democratic turnout, as has been predicted in some quarters.

Today's average of all the tracking polls is: Obama 49.375 - McCain 43.5. Yesterday's average was Obama 49.125 - McCain 43.875.

The 2004 Election Map:

With just two weeks left, and McCain running approximately 6 points behind in the national polls, Obama is also enjoying very significant leads in all the states he must win: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virgina, and New Mexico. Right now, state polls are lagging indicators of the momentum shifts in the race and that won't change until the daily tracking polls begin in the battleground states closer to the election. But, what we can discern is that for McCain to emerge victorious he will need all of the momentum to be running his favor from now until election day. Any day in which Obama is able to stabilize his lead, or expand upon it, makes it much less likely that John McCain will follow George Bush as the forty fourth President of the United States.

Based on my average, McCain needs to recover 5.875 points against Obama's lead if he is to level the race and stand any chance of emerging victorious. With the race that close it's likely that undecideds will break for McCain and he will take Florida, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, and Colorado. That will put him within striking distance of the blue states where, presuming New Mexico and Iowa are out of reach, he'll have to win one of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, or Wisconsin.

For me, the first problem with this unlikely scenario is Virginia. I think the Democratic candidate for Senate, Mark Warner (pictured right), a very popular former governor, is making this an incredibly difficult state for McCain to win. Warner currently leads his Republican opponent by 20+ points and I can't imagine a scenario where Obama doesn't benefit from this tremendously on election day. Secondly, Obama's leads in those critical blue states that he must hold are very big. puts Obama's average lead in Pennsylvania at 14 points, Michigan 10 points, Wisconsin 8 points, and Minnesota 7 points. Those are big leads for McCain to overcome in the space of two weeks. Obama's lead in the 2004 George Bush states Iowa and New Mexico are 12 and 7 points respectively, and those spreads have been too stable throughout this election season to change now. That means McCain must win one of those four blue states to get to the magic 270 number in the electoral college.

14 days of polling remains. That means that McCain must recover an average gain on Obama's lead of 0.42 points a day. McCain actually lost ground today, ceding 0.625 in the spread towards Obama. Anymore polling days like this will make it next to impossible for anything other than an Obama victory.

However, there are some caveats to take into consideration. Firstly, Obama's support is notoriously soft. We saw that against Hillary in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsyvania, where the electorate actually moved away from Obama and towards Hillary in the final days of polling. We also saw it post Republican convention where his lead went from +8 against McCain to -6 in the space of a weekend. Additionally, throughout this entire Presidential race up until the economic crisis began in September, Obama's leads have fluctuated wildly from +15 to -6. The electorate's trust of Obama is subject to a rapid erosion of support given the right set of circumstances.

Secondly, undecideds typically broke against Obama in the primaries. We saw this in New Hampshire, and in many other states throughout the battle with Hillary. If voters still have reservations at this point about siding with Obama then the probability is that they will resort to their fears and concerns, as opposed to their hope and desire for change, even in this political climate. Also in the 2006 mid-term elections, we saw a similar trend in favor of Republicans and against the Democrats. It has been forgotten, because of the innumerable tight victories Democrats were able to eventually win, but the Democratic lead going into that election should have, in reality, resulted in far more emphatic margins. The United States, ultimately, is a center right nation and these natural proclivities amongst the electorate will always work against Democrats in the closing days of most political races, in my opinion.

Taking this into account I think it's fair to estimate that undecideds in the last 3 days will predominantly break to McCain by a margin of 65% to 35%. What this means is that if Obama is leading 50-46 heading into the weekend before election day, we will probably be looking at a final result of something like 51.4 - 48.6 in favor of Obama. The difference undecideds can make is negligible unless McCain is able to draw level.

The Intrade Predication Market gives McCain a 15% chance of victory and I think this sounds about right. However, news cycles like yesterday or today are crushing for McCain. The Colin Powell endorsement not only elevated Obama's standing on national security issues, but Powell also launched into a stinging attack on the McCain campaign, the selection of Palin as a candidate for VP, and on the Republican party for its conduct in general (video below). In actual fact, Powell went much further than endorsing Obama as was expected. Instead, he turned into a fully fledged advocate providing some of the most effective arguments for Obama's candidacy that we have heard this election season.

McCain has only one chance, and that is to pivot away from the negative campaigning, to positively evoke a sense of America's greatness being founded in Conservative ideals. He has to acknowledge that George Bush has failed, but explain that the failure is as a result of George Bush, and not conservatism. This is his only hope.

Bush ran a brutally negative and effective campaign against Kerry in 2004, but he did two things differently than McCain.

Firstly, he started early. When McCain was running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, Republicans had already defined Kerry as a flip flopper and a politician with no integrity. McCain simply started the "guilt by association" attacks too late, after Obama had already been introduced and defined positively in the minds of too many.

Secondly, Bush did hardly any of the dirty work himself. He came very close to publicly condemning the swift boat ads while surreptitiously co-ordinating their smears. George Bush pivoted from the attacks of surrogates by simply presenting a positive message about the greatness and strength of America . McCain, by contrast, has become defined by the Ayers attacks, or the lipstick on a pig reference that Obama made. He has taken too much responsibility for the work of his campaign.

Ultimately, the momentum is with Obama right now and not with McCain. The Powell endorsement, preceded by center right endorsements from newspapers nationwide, have provided the platform for an Obama landslide. Victory for Obama can be guaranteed, not by playing it safe, but by truly winning the hearts and minds of the American center ground, offering himself as a President for all, and not just a President of the few.

My final suggestion for following the race over the next fourteen days is to follow the Gallup tracking polls. They have been the greatest early indicator of momentum shifts throughout this political season, with Rasmussen, Zogby, and Battleground always playing catch up. The margin might be greater or smaller, but right now it's all about the trend. No trend for McCain equals no hope for his campaign. Over the past two days Obama has improved his spread by 4 points in the Gallup poll. If this isn't halted within the next couple of days then we will be heading for a landslide of Reagan-esque proportions.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

100,000 in Missouri

This is what change looks like.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Right Wing Elites Are Out Of Touch

This is not the election of "Joe the $250,000+ earning Plummer" as Drudge has suggested on his website post debate. This is the one year when right wing media elites have been chronically out of touch with the real sentiments of the people. O'Reilly, Drudge, Hannity, Limbaugh... it's not about Ayers, Wright, Acorn, Barney Frank, or a plummer worried that the economy will tank if we revert to a tax code much more conservative than that under the Clinton Administration. I say this as somebody who manages a business that earns considerably more than $250,000 a year. The future of small businesses and our economy as a whole is not threatened by Obama's tax policy. It's threatened by a continuation of the failed Bush economic policies that McCain proposes to continue.

Friday, October 10, 2008

She Lied And She Broke The Law

An Unlawful Abuse Of Power. That was the unanimous 12-0 conclusion of a bi-partisan state investigation into Sarah Palin's troopergate scandal.

Money quote from the report that was released late today: "Gov. Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda." The report goes on to say that Sarah Palin broke a state ethics law that bars public officials from pursuing personal interest through official action.

Read the report in full here

Here is an overview of the scandal from September 3rd, including excerpts of Sarah Palin's emphatic denials:

"Demand McCain Stop The Sissy Talk!"

Those are the cries from the Conservative base tonight. An example from the Free Republic Message Board:


Why? Because McCain made these comments earlier today, trying to control the anger his campaign has fueled over the past few weeks:

Monday, October 06, 2008

Guilt By Association? Sarah Palin and the AIP

Why does Sarah Palin get a free pass? From my September 2nd post:
"I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."
"And I won’t be buried under their damn flag. I’ll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home.”
- Joe Vogler, Founder of The Alaska Independence Party (the former quote is still on their website).
Sarah Palin's association with the AIP:
1) According to Lynette Clark, the chairman of the AIP, Sarah Palin and her husband Todd were members in the 1990's and attended statewide conventions.

2) From the AIP website: "Our current governor who I mentioned at the last conference, the one we were hoping would get elected, Sarah Palin, did get elected . . . .and there was a lot of talk about her moving up. She was an AIP member before she got the job as mayor . . . " (Video Evidence)

3) Her husband, Todd Palin, was a member until 2002.

4) And finally, here is Sarah Palin's address to the AIP convention this year.

McCain's campaign slogan is "Country First." By contrast, the AIP campaign slogan is "Alaska First -- Alaska Always."

Would you be associated for decades with a political organization that professes hatred towards America? Or does hatred of America only matter if its espoused by your pastor, as opposed to your political party?

Here is an ad expressing the same sentiment:

Sunday, October 05, 2008

John McCain and the Keating Five

From Wiki:The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The five senators, Alan Cranston (D-CA), Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), John Glenn (D-OH), John McCain (R-AZ), and Donald W. Riegle (D-MI), were accused of improperly aiding Charles H. Keating, Jr., chairman of the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of an investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB).

The core allegation of the Keating Five scandal is that Charles Keating, who eventually served five years in jail for his mishandling of a saving and loan association (eerily similar to our current economic crisis), made contributions to senators and then called on them to resist the passage of regulation. As a result there was a slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market that many consider a contributing cause of the economic recession in the 1990's. From 1982 to 1987 John McCain received $112,000.00 in contributions from Keating. In addition, McCain's wife and father in law, had invested over $350,000.00 in a Keating owned shopping center. McCain, his family and their babysitter had made nine trips at Keating's expense, sometimes aboard his private jet. Three of the trips were to Keating's luxurious retreat in the Bahamas. McCain did not pay anything for the trips until years after they were taken and the insinuation of impropriety first arose. Keating established similar relationships with four other senators.

The facts:
Regulators were concerned in the mid 1980's that risky investment practices were potentially exposing government insurance funds to huge losses. Charles Keating's savings and loan association, Lincoln, had become burdened with bad debt as a result of its past aggressiveness. As a result its investment practices were being investigated. For a time it seemed as though the government might seize Lincoln for being insolvent. Keating wanted five senators to intervene on his behalf.

On April 2nd, 1987, a meeting with the chairman of the FHLBB (Independent Federal Regulatory Body) and four of the Keating Five senators took place, including John McCain. The senators requested that no staff be present. One of the senators started the meeting with mention of "our friend at Lincoln" referring to Charles Keating. The chairman said he was unfamiliar with the details of that case, but offered to set up a meeting with the regulators in San Francisco that had oversight jurisdiction over Lincoln.

On April 9th, 1987, the Keating Five, including McCain met with three members of the San Francisco regulators. The regulators felt that the meeting was very unusual and that they were being pressured by a "united front." At this point the regulators explained Lincoln was under criminal investigation for many serious charges.

Lincoln was seized by the government in 1989. More than 21,000 elderly investors lost their life savings. A criminal investigation of Charles Keating followed that was expanded to include the five Senators, including John McCain.

John McCain was cleared of any criminal impropriety, but the Senate Ethics committee criticized him for poor judgment for when he met with regulators on behalf of Charles Keating. In 2002, John McCain said these two meetings were "the worst mistake of my life." The Senate Ethics committee did not pursue, for lack of jurisdiction, McCain's delayed re-imbursments to Keating for trips at the latter's expense. One of the San Francisco bank regulators felt that McCain had gotten off too lightly, saying that Keating's business involvement with Cindy McCain was an obvious conflict of interest.

There is more:
John McCain's first letter on behalf of Keating
John McCain's second letter on behalf of Keating
John McCain's third letter on behalf of Keating
John McCain's fourth letter on behalf of Keating
John McCain's fifth letter on behalf of Keating

In conclusion, can the American people really believe that John McCain, who admitted his judgment was compromised during the Keating Five scandal, is the man to clean up the current financial mess on Wall Street? Can we trust John McCain to implement the regulation we need?

The same John McCain who opposed Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in 2000, because he felt they threatened the government surplus, and in 2008 supports them in spite of defecits and national debt that is spiraling out of control. The same John McCain who promised an honorable and positive campaign and then launched into attack advertisements about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Moses, not to mention saying Obama called Sarah Palin a pig and wanted to teach sex education to Kindergarten children. The same John McCain who chose a clearly uninformed and unqualified Vice Presidential candidate at the age of 72 for purely political purposes. The same John McCain who, now down in the polls, is preparing to "change the conversation" away from the issues that matter to launch a nasty smear campaign against his opponent.

Can you trust John McCain?

Obama's pre-emptive strike against the smears:

The full documentary will be available at 12:00 EST tomorrow here at

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Palin Made Things Worse

Daily tracking polls including, for the first time, a full day's polling after the Vice Presidential debate, all show Obama either sustaining or increasing his lead in the Presidential race against McCain. The electorate are thankfully looking for more than a wink and an anecdotal aside from their next VP. However, having failed to win the argument on any of the issues, John McCain, who promised an honorable and positive campaign after winning the Republican nomination, is flip-flopping, planning to pursue an aggressive smear campaign to get back into the race. Expect plenty of McCain/Palin personal attacks against Obama over the next four weeks. McCain will probably justify these unscrupulous and unethical attacks once again on the fact that he didn't get all the town hall meetings he wanted. It's good to know his integrity is so unwavering.

John McCain = The change we need.

Sunday Update: Here are today's numbers with 2 full days of polling post VP debate:

Diageo/Hotline OBAMA 48 McCAIN41
Gallup OBAMA 50 McCAIN 43
Rasmussen Reports OBAMA 51 McCAIN 44
Research 2000/dKos OBAMA 52 McCAIN 40

Also, here is the Obama campaign's preemptive strike against the upcoming desperate personal attacks from John McCain and Sarah Palin:

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vice Presidential Debate Reaction

I feel that my predication was right on the money. Palin started forcefully, but slowed as the issues caught up with her memorized talking points. Biden was sincere and authentic at his best, and thoughtless at his worst. She did herself a world of good, and most importantly re-energized the dispirited Conservative base, but she didn't do it as effectively as she did in the convention speech. This won't have the same lasting effect.

Post convention polls state that it was an emphatic victory for Biden, but, I think that's yet to be seen. However, while Palin was charming, I think pundits are mistaking that for the type of resonance and informed caring people are looking for. Her tone was just off for me. Overall I think Biden edged it. For reasons I described below, that is actually a big victory for Obama as this is one less game-changing opportunity left on the schedule for the McCain campaign.

The best analogy I can think of to describe Palin is a rookie boxer with naturally good technique and a couple of hard hitting punches. But, as they say in boxing, she is chinny. She is extremely vulnerable to a knockout blow, even when she appears in full control. Where Bush could ride with his mistakes and misstatements as if they were irrelevant (quite masterfully looking back) Palin by comparison is completely exposed. Unlike some of the pundits on cable news tonight I do not think the narrative has been transformed about Palin being unqualified for the Presidency. As John McCain would say "There will be more gaffes, I'm sorry to say. There will be more gaffes." Those gaffes will continue to haunt McCain's ability to control the national conversation.

Finally, Obama had the best possible candidate on his ticket for tonight (and maybe tonight only) because his authenticity negated an area where Palin could have destroyed an overly political Kerry, Hillary, Gore, or Bayh (who I supported as V.P.) with her "realness." Independent and undecided voters in the country tonight will be talking as much about their positive feelings for Joe Biden as they will be about Palin's charm.

Before, the debate I said Obama was essentially up 2 touchdowns approaching the end of the third quarter. I'd say tonight we're heading into the final quarter with McCain/Palin, at best, having to settle for a field goal with their previous possession. The main task of the Obama campaign tonight is to do whatever it takes to disrupt the national conversation being dominated tomorrow by the fact that Palin exceeded expectations. Although, it is quite possible House Republicans will do him a favor on this by voting against the bailout plan again. If the bill fails again, Obama scores, and we head into Tuesday's debate with McCain clearly incapable of leading his own party, let alone the country. Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, but we will see.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What Biden Must Do To Win The Debate

While everyone enthusiastically awaits the Vice Presidential debate, expecting gaffe's, misstatements, and further embarrassment for Sarah Palin, insufficient emphasis is being placed on tomorrow night's importance. There are two major reasons why I believe this debate could hugely contribute towards the eventual victor in this race:

1. John McCain was outstanding in the Presidential debate. He may have lost in every poll and dial meter, but last Friday John McCain was at his best. He brought his extensive assessment of policy issues on the subjects that suit him best politically. He savaged Obama on the issue of Iran and negotiating without pre-condition. He pivoted off the economic crisis and controlled the conversation on earmarks and spending. He emotively reached out to the American people with the substantive promise of victory in Iraq.

And, it didn't work. For the same reason John Kerry managed to win all 3 debates in 2004 and lose that election to President Bush. He wasn't likeable, and on all the issues that mattered, Obama more than held his own. McCain appeared mean, angry, and disrespectful to Obama. He repeatedly derided Obama's lack of understanding and naivety when it was patently clear that Obama had demonstrated an extensive understanding of the issues, and that the differences between him and McCain were a matter of perspective.

The next two Presidential debates will be focused on domestic policy and John McCain can either attempt to learn from his mistakes, being more cordial and respectful to Obama to compensate for his off-putting crankiness (potentially undermining his narrative that Obama is an inexperienced danger to America), or he can continue the attack orientated posture he staked out last Friday, undermining his independent and bi-partisan appeal. Either way, the chances of any game-changing debate moments for McCain have significantly receded. Barring a Reverend Wright style controversy that dramatically puts Obama on the defensive, I just don't see how McCain's debate performances can improve over the coming weeks.

2. Obama is now in a very strong position. It's the equivalent of being up 2 touchdowns, with possession of the football approaching the end of the 3rd quarter. Another touchdown now can leave the opposition with just too much to do. Likewise, failure to score and conceding a touchdown allows the opposition back into the game and turns all the momentum against you. We saw that with Obama and Hillary in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Obama has a national lead average of 5.3% according to RCP, and critically he is hitting 50% in many of the polls that are being released. Make no mistake, this is a significant national lead, and while Obama's support is notoriously soft, time is running out for game-changers like the Republican National Convention. Obama is also now ahead in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, and he is extremely competitive in Missouri and Indiana. Do you know how many of these states Obama needs to win to be victorious on November 4th? If he can hold onto New Hampshire, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Obama needs to win only one of these states. That is how up against it the McCain campaign is right now.

If Biden wins emphatically, and Palin struggles, then an additional boost in the polls for Obama could essentially put this race out of McCain's reach. Likewise, short on opportunities for game-changers, this is a huge chance for the McCain campaign to get themselves back in the game. After all, debate expectations for Palin are about as low as they were before her outstanding speech at the Republican convention in August.

The Obama campaign, ahead of the curve as ever, has brilliantly insisted upon standing lecterns for the debate. This will dramatically inhibit Palin's ability to get folksy and colloqial with Biden and the moderators. The spotlight will be sharper, and there will be a greater requirement for stature.

Biden must be cautious, but authentic. Biden's strength is also his weakness. He has a big heart, he's rhetorically ambitious, and he's very sincere. As a result, sometimes he isn't particularly thoughtful. But, Biden really does care about the issues involved, plus real people and their suffering. That should be his objective, to demonstrate to the electorate his comparative experience and expertise, but to also show middle class Americans that he's on their side. He must not pro-actively engage with Palin, however, if she hits him hard, and at times she will, he can't take it lying down either. He must also leave Sarah Palin to make her own mistakes, rather than forcing them, just like Gore shouldn't have forced the issue with Bush in 2000 making himself look petty and un-presidential while Bush hovered above the fray with his wafer thin populist jargons.

But, as an aggressive tactic I think Biden should take the debate into tangential areas that Palin won't have done her homework on. On foreign policy he should talk about the tensions between India and Pakistan, or the role of Ukraine in the current tensions with Russia (as McCain tried to against Obama). On economics he should talk about the role of China as a burgeoning economic superpower. On healthcare he should talk about people who already have coverage, but can't afford the deductables, prescription drugs, and don't go to the doctor, potentially making their ailments much more severe. On women's issues he should talk about the reality of criminalizing abortion, and the way in which prior to Roe vs. Wade poor women across America risked and lost their lives getting back street abortions. Should a woman who has been raped and chooses to have an abortion be criminalized? That is the reality of Sarah Palin's position and that's the context within which the issue should be framed.

Finally, here are some examples of how effective Sarah Palin can be as a debater.

Here are some examples of how little she knows about national and international issues:

My prediction is that the Obama campaign will have trained Joe well, and after an aggressive start Palin will slow down to be undone by policy issues beyond her breadth of knowledge. George Bush was the great misunderestimated debater, whose political skills and breadth of general policy and world knowledge was actually much more expansive than he was given credit for. This time tomorrow we'll know how well Sarah Palin crammed for this test, and if she has also been underestimated by Democrats.

Of course, a completely different point would be to ask whether any potential President should need to cram for these basic issues at all. Especially, at such a time of national crisis and war.