pageok
pageok
pageok
Interesting Presidential Poll:

It seems that everyone I know, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, thinks that Barack Obama is wildly popular and a virtual shoe-in to become president if he receives the Democratic nomination. At least one poll suggests otherwise. According to Rasmussen,

Thirty-four percent (34%) of all voters say they will definitely vote for John McCain if he is on the ballot this November. Thirty-three percent (33%) will definitely vote against him while 29% say their support hinges on who his opponent is.

Barack Obama has the same number who will definitely vote for him--34%. But, more people are committed to voting against him than McCain. Forty-three percent (43%) say they will definitely reject him at the ballot box.

I understand that this is just one poll, and we've all learned to be skeptical of polls. But this one is so contrary to the conventional wisdom that when I've mentioned it to people, they express sheer disbelief. So here it is.

E:
Is it worth noting that McCain has worse numbers than Obama for unaffiliated voters?
2.29.2008 12:22pm
Kazinski:
It is not contrary to the conventional wisdom of anybody that has been following the tracking polls for the past year. McCain has always been ahead or very close in head to head matchups against either of the democrats.

It is probably news to Pauline Kael.
2.29.2008 12:22pm
dearieme:
The key figure is La Belle Dame sans Merci. She's so awful that the Dems are going to punt (I assume) on Obama: in her case, better the devil you don't know.
2.29.2008 12:24pm
Guest101:
Isn't that a rather roundabout way of approaching the issue when the majority of head-to-head polls show Obama with a clear lead over McCain? See www.realclearpolitics.com.
2.29.2008 12:25pm
Jacob (mail):
I can only presume that Professor Bernstein doesn't know anybody who's been following things that closely (actually, I presume that he was merely employing hyperbole as a framing device). Conventional wisdom (if he means "cable news" or "people who don't follow politics that much", he's right on) notwithstanding, anyone who's gone more than one or two clicks deep on the political coverage knows this. Bernstein is definitely the Pauline Kael in this situation.
2.29.2008 12:29pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
As a blue-state resident in one of the most Democratic parts of it, and as a long-time supporter of Obama who has maxed out my contributions, I can say that I definitely don't know who the hell you are hanging out with. No one I know thinks Obama is a shoe-in for the Presidency at all. Democrats are definitely optimistic about both candidates, and the few Republicans I know definitely think that Dems can win, but no one, and I mean no one, has told me they think Obama is a shoe-in.
2.29.2008 12:29pm
TerrencePhilip:
I'd say the perspective of highly educated, affluent and/or young upwardly mobile people (disproportionately likely to be the acquaintances of Conspirators and posters) is skewed- those folks are more Obama's constituency, whereas he has not done as well among other groups, such as working-class whites without college educations, and older voters. He has improved among the registered Democratic primary voters in those categories as Hillary's support eroded but that may not hold true for other voters. I'd suspect he has a lot of work to do with folks from those categories among the rest of the population, though he's got time (and if McCain, patron saint of campaign finance, can't win his FEC appeal, Obama will be able to outspend him 10-to-1 for months).

Obama will have to answer some hard questions, too. I think the property deal with Rezko will get a lot more attention, especially with his trial coming up.
2.29.2008 12:30pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Guest, depends what the question is. If the question is, "is Obama wildly popular and a shoe-in," this poll strongly suggests that the answre to both questions is know. If the question is, who seems to be in the lead, then this poll is still relevant, but definitely roundabout.
2.29.2008 12:31pm
CrazyTrain (mail):
Guest101-- those polls are worth about as much as the one David cites, ie nothing. It's way too early to say anything, especially because the public knows very little about Obama. And although the public has impressions of McCain, most people are not overly familiar with his actual positions either (except they do know that the MSM worships him as a supposed "maverick").
2.29.2008 12:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
is "no."
2.29.2008 12:33pm
Richard A. (mail):
It's "shoo-in," not "shoe-in."
2.29.2008 12:34pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
It's still much too early to give any credence to polls in any direction. The campaign has barely just begun. The dominant issue won't even surface until September at the earliest, that's a half year away.
2.29.2008 12:36pm
Guest101:

Guest101-- those polls are worth about as much as the one David cites, ie nothing. It's way too early to say anything, especially because the public knows very little about Obama.

That's true, and I'm not suggesting that Obama is in fact a guaranteed winner (the primary season has demonstrated that early polls means basically nothing once the campaign gets going), but David seems to be taking a roundabout approach to the question to manufacture bad news for Obama when the available evidence on the precise question at issue-- whether Obama or McCain would be favored in a general election-- points in the opposite direction. Add to that the straw man of "everyone thinkgs that Obama is a virtual shoe-in," and one might suspect that Prof. Bernstein is being less than entirely intellectually honest.
2.29.2008 12:37pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I admit that "every I know" is a skewed data set of mostly very well-educated attorneys, with an overrepresentation of ideologues on both sides (with the liberals likely to be especially enthusiastic about Obama, and the conservatives unenthusiastic about McCain) But you need only look to some of the comments on this blog to see that many people think the Obamas should already be measuring the White House windows for new curtains.
2.29.2008 12:43pm
Brian Mac:
As an aside, I have a vague perception that Rasmussen's polling has been a bit out of whack this primary season. Anyone share this, or have hard data to back up or refute it?
2.29.2008 12:46pm
Prufrock765 (mail):
A National head-to-head poll at this date means less than nothing.
The election will be decided in a small number of states; that number very likely includes: Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin and Virginia. I would not bet the mortgage that Barack Hussein Obama (as he will, by election day, inevitably be known) will do particularly well in any of those states. If Obama loses four of those five, the election is over.
FWIW: I am not a McCain supporter
2.29.2008 12:54pm
JohnO (mail):
Wait till I unleash my "Republican attack dogs" (insert diabolical laugh here). I've been keeping them tied up in the basement since 2004.
2.29.2008 12:58pm
DiverDan (mail):
First of all, since the President is NOT elected through a national plebiscite, but rather through elections held in the several states where the winner in each state (by WHATEVER margin) takes all of the electoral votes of that state, national polls are of almost no utility at all in trying to predict who might win a presidential election. Even state by state polls of "likely voters" are prone to a lot of errors. First, the question "Are you likely to vote in the Presidential Election?" gets a LOT of false positives - even people who are promised anonymity are more likely to say yes rather than appear to be apathetic or unpatriotic. Second, voter turnout, which can have a very substantial effect on who wins, can be heavily influenced by local whether; a series of heavy thunderstorms moving across Ohio and Pennsylvania on Election Day can have the effect of depressing turnout of the poorer voters and working class voters, which might swing both states to McCain come election day. In this particular poll, apparently of "all voters", rather than "likely voters", before drawing any conclusions about what it means, we would have to know whether voters who are motivated to vote "for" a candidate are more or less likely to actually show up to vote than those who are motivated to vote "against" a candidate; I don't have any empiracal evidence, but my gut tells me that the "fors" are more likely to actually make the effort to vote than the "againsts," meaning that relying on the relative size of the "againsts" is an iffy proposition at best.

As tools for the Campaigns to guide their use of advertising funds, localized polls are useful; as tools to help the campaigns shape their messages, national polls on issues and policy alternatives are useful. As predictors of success, especially this far in advance of the election, national polls are almost completely meaningless.
2.29.2008 12:58pm
Asher Steinberg (mail):
Prufrock, I don't know where you get the idea that Virginia would be one of the swing states; Bob Dole carried Virginia in 1996. If McCain has trouble winning VA, he doesn't have a chance. As for the rest, I'd give these predictions, based purely on gut instinct: Florida to McCain, and Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri to Obama. Missouri could be really close though.
2.29.2008 1:01pm
Frater Plotter:
And this is why the talking points and the dog whistles are out in force: to rile up each party's base to a frothing hatred of the other party's leading candidate, in order to ensure a good turnout in November.

This is why "Clinton's a ball-busting lesbo" and the "McCain is a nuke-crazy wacko" and the "Obama's a terrorist Negro" mouth-breathers are out in force. They're not trying to convince the independents to vote for their candidate: they're trying to convince their own base to HATE HATE HATE the other candidate.

As usual, the Republicans are better at this, maybe because they just have more practice at it: offended outrage and shrill demand for justice are more the Democrats' purview. It remains to be seen whether frothing hatred will work for the Republicans this time around: I think even most Republicans are a little bit tired of it, especially after eight years of Bush crime.
2.29.2008 1:01pm
Mr. Bingley (www):
It will be interesting to see how Obama's halo holds up once his career and policies are put under a microscope in the general election, assuming he gets the nomination, of course. McCain certainly has a lot of dirt in his closet, as well. Blech, this Fall will be just a mess.
2.29.2008 1:02pm
Dave N (mail):
Isn't that a rather roundabout way of approaching the issue when the majority of head-to-head polls show Obama with a clear lead over McCain? See www.realclearpolitics.com.
I looked. RealClearPolitics has the race at 47.5% (Obama) to 43.4% (McCain). Frankly, a margin just outside the statistical margin of error can hardly be called "clear."

The general election campaign has yet to start. Neither candidate should be measuring to see where their furniture will fit in the White House.
2.29.2008 1:13pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Anecdotal evidence means nothing, particularly at this stage of the campaign. And normal political polls have become largely useless, as shown by their repeated major errors in this campaign.

The reason for this is that the polling industry has been devastated by the "well-poisoning" effect of telemarketers, especially those which pretend to use polls as a vehicle to push products.

A friend who is a consultant for the polling industry says they are having to resort to "hostile" territory (hostile to pollsters) methodology to gather, indirectly, data which people used to freely offer. He says this is lucrative for him, but it really drives up the cost of polling.
2.29.2008 1:22pm
Kent Scheidegger (mail) (www):
In addition to Dave N's comment about the margin of error, RCP's method of averaging polls has many statisticians rolling their eyes. If one poll samples all registered voters and another attempts to determine who are "likely voters" and you average their results you get -- what?
2.29.2008 1:35pm
The Unbeliever (mail):
Ditto for Kent's point. For example, electoral-vote.com updates whenever any major poll gets released in a state. As a result of this methodolgy they got "surprised" in 2004 in a couple of states, both in terms of trendlines and final results... but it's worth noting the results would have been more in line with the election results if they had simply taken all Zogby polls out of the mix.
2.29.2008 1:40pm
Terrivus:

"every I know" is a skewed data set of mostly very well-educated attorneys, with an overrepresentation of ideologues on both sides


That's pretty much my data set, too -- and in the DC area, much like yours -- and I haven't met anyone -- not one person -- who thinks Obama is "a virtual shoe-in" [sic] for the presidency should he win the nomination.

I guess my well-educated attorneys are thinking very differently from your well-educated attorneys.
2.29.2008 1:47pm
Gordo:
Clearly Obama will not beat McCain in a landslide. This nation is too closely divided for that. And each party will have put forward its most electable candidate, IMHO.

The question for the Democrats is whether Obama has a greater chance of beating McCain than Hillary Clinton. And the answer to that seems to be emphatically "yes."
2.29.2008 1:51pm
Stash:
First, I don't know anybody who thinks this won't be a close election. As for the polls, I remember when Ross Perot was leading Clinton by a big margin for the general in some polls.

Second, I think Obama's negatives may be inflated somewhat by the current resentment of many Hillary supporters. You don't have to look far to see them publicly vowing to vote McCain in revenge for the injury to beloved Hillary. Indeed, many of the "negatives" on Obama are sincere and common currency among Hillary supporters. Once the nomination is settled, I question how many of these folks won't hold their nose and vote Obama. Hillary's support comes from dyed-in-wool Democrats who are strong "likely voters." In the end, I do not see them going for McCain.
2.29.2008 1:52pm
gab:
Go to Intrade - way better than the polls.
2.29.2008 1:58pm
Bart (mail):
The LA Times/Bloomberg poll which came out yesterday has McCain in a statistical tie with Obama, leading narrowly 44-42 with a ton of undecided as is to be expected this early. However, the internals of the poll were shocking, showing McCain seriously poaching among Dem voters and leading on every major issue apart from health care.

I broke down the poll here.
2.29.2008 2:06pm
Stash:
Er, that's "dyed-in-THE-wool." Sorry.
2.29.2008 2:07pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Obama has not even sowed up the nomination yet. His campaign's apparent approach to the Canadian Consul General on NAFTA opens Ohio back up if Clinton can effectively pounce.

I got polled by Rasmussun the other day. Apparently my household includes a 30-40 Muslim female democrat who will vote for Clinton. Who knew?
2.29.2008 2:15pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I couldn't find their polling methodology on their website. I almost always listen to the answering machine before I pick up the phone, and the only time I've been polled was one of the few exceptions. Assuming I'm not alone in this, and pollsters don't "leave a message," how accurate can these polls be? Further, many people under 40 have only a cell phone. Are pollsters getting their opinions?
2.29.2008 2:18pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
David's hanging around with the wrong people. Everyone I know thinks Obama has as much chance as Stevenson, Goldwater, McGovern, Mondale or Dukakis once his ultra leftist views are known to the electorate. Hillary would have a better chance.

Behind the closed curtains of voting booths, Obama's inexperience and radical views will overrule his charisma.

I don't remember, did people in 1952, 1956, 1964, 1972, 1984 and 1988 really think the races were close?
2.29.2008 2:40pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
People will pretend to be tolerant when it doesn't matter, but at the end of the day, how many americans do you really think are going to vote for a dark-skinned guy named Barak Hussein Obama?
2.29.2008 2:41pm
rarango (mail):
Tony: agree with your point about the increasing prevalance of cell phones--seems to the days of the telephone poll are becoming rapidly numbered. Some pollsters (I'm thinking of Zogby here) have been remarkably wrong; and then there was the whole NH polling thing.

Agree with those who say no one at this point is a shoo-in. There is still a democratic nominee to select, there will be (thank heavens) a six month break from debates, and a whole lot could happen in the 8 months to the general. As other have noted, party regulars and the pundits are paying attention; I dont think the American public will get engaged until Aug-Sep. Then the polling will start to become more accurate.
2.29.2008 2:43pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
I admit that "every I know" is a skewed data set ... But you need only look to some of the comments on this blog....

Which gains you nothing, as it is essentially just a larger sample of the same sort of people.
2.29.2008 2:44pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
my household includes a 30-40 Muslim female democrat who will vote for Clinton

Ha ha ha ha!

I do the same thing to pollsters whenever I get a chance.
2.29.2008 2:45pm
Waldensian (mail):

David seems to be taking a roundabout approach to the question to manufacture bad news for Obama

What makes you think David would manufacture bad news for Obama?
2.29.2008 2:47pm
SP:
Granted, I live in one of the archipelago of People's Republics that dot this country, but the sense here is that Obama is a man of Change and that if you do not vote for him, you are either stupid or immoral (or both). It's very annoying.
2.29.2008 2:48pm
Luke (mail):
I have a strong feeling that people and republicans in particular who are not paying close attention just don't see the wave that is about to hit. This Washington Post article captures my sentiment. Reagan-Obama
2.29.2008 3:02pm
rarango (mail):
Luke: If EJ Dionne is the source of this analysis, I will go with the polling data, inaccurate as it may be. I suppose that Obama and Reagan's rhetoric might be somewhat comparable, but Reagan had a much longer track record and was governor of California. Their politics are completely different but perhaps EJ thinks that rhetoric trumps underlying values. There is precious little comparison there.
2.29.2008 3:07pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
I wonder to what extent this is skewed by the continuing presence of Clinton supporters who claim they wouldn't vote for Obama in the general election? Clinton's Democratic supporters will come around to the Democratic nominee eventually, just as Rush will be a devout McCain supporter by Election Day.
2.29.2008 3:09pm
Left-Right-Left-Right:
Everyone I know thinks Obama has as much chance as Stevenson, Goldwater, McGovern, Mondale or Dukakis once his ultra leftist views are known to the electorate.

Maybe you should start hanging around other people - you probably wouldn't be so lonely, then.

BTW, I thought Obama was an empty suit, devoid of ideas? Get your talking points right.
2.29.2008 3:10pm
Dave N (mail):
People will pretend to be tolerant when it doesn't matter, but at the end of the day, how many americans do you really think are going to vote for a dark-skinned guy named Barak Hussein Obama?
Interesting that for all the claims that Republicans will engage in race-baiting, offensive use of Obama's middle name, etc., the person who brings it up here is one of this blog's more reliable liberal contributors.
2.29.2008 3:16pm
calmom:
Obama's negatives will only go up. Thus far, the news media have only been showing his eloquence and the rah-rah crowds. Very few people yet know about: 1) his dealings with Rezko 2) his votes in the Illinois legislature including one to treat living, breathing, born alive abortion babies as less than human beings deserving medical treatment, or his vote to allow pedophiles to live near school and parks.
2.29.2008 3:30pm
Hoosier:
I won't be voting for Obama, and I doubt that his chances will be even as high as 50-50 by November.
2.29.2008 4:00pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
DaveN: that's the first time i've ever been called liberal in my entire life. I'm a minarchist, if anything, and that's as far from "american liberal" as one can get.

Anyway, it's not just republicans about whom I'm being cynical. At the end of the day I think most democrats will vote for Hillary for the same reason (at least the white ones). White people's tolerance and acceptance of other races insofar as they work together, dine together, shop at the same stores, go to the same schools, and live in the same neighborhoods is one thing - huge progress has been made in that regard over the past 40 years. But I'm not sure we're at the point where tolerance and acceptance of minorities equates with actively choosing one to be the leader of the country. Particularly one whose middle name sounds like the name of an evil-doer. I hope I'm wrong. I really do.
2.29.2008 4:02pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

how many americans do you really think are going to vote for a dark-skinned guy named Barak Hussein Obama?

I'm gonna start a rumor that McCain was actually born John Saddam McCain, and changed his middle name to Sidney to seem "more American."
2.29.2008 5:07pm
Luke (mail):
rarango: It is not just the similarity in the rhetoric of Reagan and Obama but how people are responding to it. Both were able to inspire and convince people even against their self interest. Just look at the primaries thus far: Obama usually starts off trailing and then once he starts campaigning in a particular State and people see and hear him, things change to his advantage. Obama will be able to accomplish for the democratic party what Reagan did for the Republicans, namely, bring independents and some from the opposite party. The term will be Obama Republicans (as opposed to Reagan Democrats)
2.29.2008 5:20pm
Left-Right-Left-Right:
But I'm not sure we're at the point where tolerance and acceptance of minorities equates with actively choosing one to be the leader of the country

You do know that Obama has raised far more money and has garnered more votes than any other presidential candidate in either party, right? What more proof could you want that Americans are ready to elect someone who's not white?
2.29.2008 5:22pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
I don't like McCain, but I think the odds are of him winning the popular vote over either BHO or HRC, in an honest election. If Obama is the nominee, I think the chances of an honest election go up. Things we don't know yet: who will the veeps be? Will there be a bitter hostile convention, or a love fest? How's that war thing going? How's the economy? Will Nader matter?
2.29.2008 5:29pm
Cornellian (mail):
I'm a minarchist, if anything, and that's as far from "american liberal" as one can get.

What is a "minarchist?"
2.29.2008 5:42pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Arbitraryaardvark. Don't know the answer to most of your questions, but I'll tell you right now, Nader will not matter.

And count me in as one of those folks who hangs with lots of over-educated liberal lawyers and academics who doesn't know of a single one who thinks Obama is a lock or anything like a lock to win.
2.29.2008 6:00pm
MadHatChemist:
Frankly, I don't see how November will be anything but a Democratic blowout. The current close polls are the result of a nasty primary. After he gets the nod, the left will circle around him. His Cult of Personality will be protected by the media and trongs of Obamaniacs will go out to vote for him. In contrast, McCain may not shore up his base and he has to deal with the GOPs many, many problems.

As it stands, Obama will get 30 to 35 states, and the Dems will pick up at least 4 (maybe up to 8) seats in the Senate and increase their majority in the house by double-digit numbers.

And I, for one, do not welcomeour forthcoming socialist messiah.
2.29.2008 6:31pm
Cornellian (mail):
McCain is far more popular with independents than any other Republican candidate, but the question is whether McCain can win enough independent votes to make up for the fact that he is despised by a significant minority of the Republican base.
2.29.2008 7:14pm
Dave N (mail):
I'm a minarchist, if anything, and that's as far from "american liberal" as one can get.

What is a "minarchist?"
I had to look it up myself, and felt an obligation to do so since I apparently insulted BruceM by calling him a liberal.

According to an unsourced Wikipedia article, "minarchism" is sometimes referred to as "minimal statism"--that is, the belief that the state should be as small as possible to preserve the liberty and property of each person.

So my apologies to BruceM for calling him a liberal. The BDS I had noticed in other threads blinded me to the possibility that he might be something else.
2.29.2008 7:24pm
LM (mail):
Elliot Reed has it right. If this comes as a surprise to David, I have to assume he doesn't read any liberal blogs. There's a cohort of angry Clintonistas who interpret Obama's refusal to kiss Hillary's ring and stand aside as misogyny, and they swear they'll never vote for him. (That's right, President Bush, not all left-wing nuttery is about you.) Presumably some will vote McCain, some will stay home, but most will get over it. Maybe the hard-core haters can work out some sort of trade with Ann Coulter.

But shoo-in? Unh-uh.
2.29.2008 8:27pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Dave N: apology accepted. I was not really offended by being called liberal so much as shocked and awed. I've been called a lot of things, but "liberal" has never been among them. I'd call myself a libertarian but that term has lost all meaning at this point, other than maybe being something between a republican and a democrat.


Hatred of Bush is a poor signal for liberalism. It's like:

All goldfish are pets. Dave has a pet. Therefore, Dave has a goldfish.

I'm sure you'll concede the logical flaw in that syllogism.

Aside from the fact that there are many conservatives who think Bush has been a mediocre president, your logic implies an ideological requirement to approve of politicians in your party or who purport to share your ideology. The worse the politician is, the worse that logic is. And Bush is horrendously bad.

I actually voted for Bush when he was running for governor here in Texas - for both terms, and I voted for him the first time around for President. After his first term as president, it was abundantly clear that he was incompetent to do the job. Texas's governor is one of the weakest in the state, so it's hard to screw that up. Bush wasn't a great governor and he wasn't a terrible one. He didn't steal from the state treasury and he didn't have any scandals during his governorship... that's about all you can ask for of the Texas governor.

I'll continue to hate Bush, and espouse my opinion that he's the worst president this country has or ever will have. But that sole fact is a very poor indicator of being a liberal.
2.29.2008 9:46pm
Baseballhead (mail):
What makes you think David would manufacture bad news for Obama?
Just about everything David Bernstein writes about Obama makes me think he would manufacture bad news about Obama. Either that, or I eagerly await the series of Bernstein's McCain-Hagee that must be forthcoming.
2.29.2008 10:01pm
Jmaie (mail):
I'm also cynical, with respect to what people *say* when asked whether they will vote for Obama. Too many will simply lie in the affirmative when asked, but vote no when the time comes.

I can't remember where I heard it first, but it's been said that the first black president (I don't mean Bill) will be a conservative, i.e. not too scary. I think this is probably correct.

I would like to think that society has progressed further, but...
2.29.2008 10:07pm
kadet (mail):
I think if Obama wins the election , he will put all neoconservatives and affiliated with them characters in the concentration camps and orders execution of the most obnoxious ones, like Podhoretz, Kristol, et al. After all he is liberal fascist and hates Jews...
2.29.2008 10:14pm
liberty (mail) (www):
I think its also important to pay attention to the polls which cover ideology, issues and other broader categories. When you look, for example, at whether people think Obama is "too left wing", "about right" or "not left wing enough" and for McCain whether he is "too right wing", "about right" or "not conservative enough", you find that the "not left enough" + "about right" (those who would presumably vote for Obama over McCain) add up to less than the "not conservative enough" + "about right" (those who would presumably pick McCain over Obama).

This is rough because you don't know who might vote for Nader or stay home - but you don't really know that when you make people pick between the two candidates either. Sometimes the more vague polls tell you more.

And when you look at who is close on defense / military ("too tough", "about right" or "not tough enough") McCain also comes out ahead. But maybe they reverse on economics, I actually don't remember. I always get pissed off about economics polls.

Anyway, I don't think its clear at all that Obama would beat McCain. A big one I saw in that set of polls was that like 65% felt like they didn't know enough about Obama's positions, while about 40% felt that way about McCain, I think.

There is a long long long way to go before we know how people feel about that choice.
2.29.2008 11:43pm
Russ (mail):
MadHatChemist said:
"As it stands, Obama will get 30 to 35 states..."

Um...what?!?!

Here are the states, just off the top of my head, that Obama stands no chance in - Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky.

That's 21 without breathing hard.

I don't doubt that Obama can win, but believing this'll be a democrat blowout is wishful thinking.

On a related note, Obama's stance with the Jewish community will come back to bite him hard. I know this is anecdotal, but a very good friend of mine, lifelong democrat and blue-blooded liberal, has already said he'll vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee. He likes Hillary, but Obama's stance on too many issues regarding Israel, Iran, the GWOT, etc., will keep him from ever going down that road. And I'm certain he's not the only one.
3.1.2008 2:52am
Ray Fuller (mail):
"It's the economy, stupid," Clinton lovers. The last time America faced "stagflation" was when President Jimmy Carter suffered the indignity of falling on Ron Reagan's electoral sword. Today, the American economy is falling into recession, with anticipated job losses, accompanied by stock losses, nationwide home equity losses, foreclosures, credit card and car loan defaults, and a bankruptcy system that is inamicable to debtors. Who but the super-rich feel better off today than before Bush? Besides a stagnant economy, consumers face unrelenting and increasing inflation, from gasoline prices to energy costs for home heating and cooling, from the grocery bill to health insurance, from education and educational loan expenses to the cost of credit in general. No Republican can withstand that economic reality, no matter his Democratic opponent. (By the way, Obama has already won the nomination, according to neutral reporter analysts, by dint of the delegates actually selected to date and the party's proportional system for the allocation of delegates in future primaries, absent Clinton landslides in every remaining primary.) Further nailing the Republican presidential coffin shut is the Iraq War itself, which parallels the Carter Iran hostage crisis. 75% of Americans hate this War, which is worse than the repudiation of the Vietnam War. Obama will tie the American economic crisis and neglect of repair of America's infrastructure and of scarce assistance to the poor and middle class, to the wasteful spending on the Iraq War and Iraqui reparations. And to the unprincipled tax cuts for the rich. Finally, the incompetence and corruption of the Republicans in Congress and in the White House will so offend the American people (especially the idealistic young) that this will be a generational change election like that of 1932 and 1980. (Just consider the Marine report on the refusal of the apparatchnik in the Pentagon to buy reinforced MWRAP vehicles under the Rumsfeld regime, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and the mutilation of thousands more during the span of two years, until the last election forced President Bush to replace him at the helm of the Defense Department! An astonishing example of incompetence and corruption at the highest levels of our government, which should prove repugnant to any patriot or humanitarian.) Big government liberalism will be in the ascendancy for a generation after this November's election.
3.1.2008 8:02am
RattlerGator (mail) (www):
Elliot Reed: I wonder to what extent this is skewed by the continuing presence of Clinton supporters who claim they wouldn't vote for Obama in the general election? Clinton's Democratic supporters will come around to the Democratic nominee eventually, just as Rush will be a devout McCain supporter by Election Day.


I don't think this is even remotely accurate. In fact, the story of this presidential election [presuming Obama doesn't absolutely crash and burn a la McGovern] is going to be the remarkable number of white women in the Democrat Party who will not vote for Barack Obama. They may not vote for anyone else, but they sure as hell aren't going to vote for Barack.

White people across the political spectrum find it difficult to engage in genuine color-coded introspection for the same reason that others find it difficult: we don't come out of that analysis looking particularly good. None of us. But it is the women, across all racial lines, who most enforce the lines of separation. And Michelle Obama appears to be the worst possible wife Barack could have chosen to exacerbate this divide. Haven't y'all noticed? On a superficial level, white women -- even Democrats -- do not like her. That's very bad news for Barack Obama.

And Ray Fuller, as was the case for people who still insist that a Yale grad, Harvard MBA, and qualified fighter pilot is stupid -- you're in for a very rude surprise.
3.1.2008 8:49am
Hewart:
"People will pretend to be tolerant when it doesn't matter, but at the end of the day, how many americans do you really think are going to vote for a dark-skinned guy named Barak Hussein Obama?"

I suppose the answer to that is: enough will vote for Obama that it's incumbent on some Republicans to mention his middle name as often as possible to associate Obama with Arabs, Muslims, terrorists and Iraq, to scare voters away from him.

Really, it seems to me that you don't resort to childishly mocking a guy's middle name unless you're pretty insecure about your own candidate and think Obama's a threat. Or, you're just a playground bully. I wonder which might apply to so many in the modern GOP?
3.1.2008 11:22am
JosephSlater (mail):
Russ:

I think if Obama wins, it won't be a landslide, and I agree with most of the states you list, but Florida? You really think Obama has no chance in Florida? Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be shocked if McCain took Florida, but I think it's definitely in play.

Beyond that, there are a lot of seemingly conservative posters that seem to know enough liberal white women and/or liberal Jews to predict confidently real problems for Obama with these groups. Again, I don't see it, and I'm guessing I hang with a larger crowd of those two demographic groups. It says here Obama does at least as well, or at least not signficantly worse, with white women and Jews as Gore and Kerry did. Doesn't mean Obama wins, but if he loses, this won't be why.
3.1.2008 11:23am
SirBillsalot (mail):
We are at about that time in the election cycle when the media usually seems to declare a Democratic nominee to be the second coming of JFK, and the inevitable next president. That early media boost isn't countered yet by an ideologically contested campaign (which all-liberal primaries are not). That is why early poll leads by Carter over Reagan, Dukakis over GHW Bush, etc. didn't predict much for November, and why liberals who get their news from a like-minded media, and don't talk to people outside of their bubble get over confident early are often shocked by the results in the fall.

What ought to worry liberals is that those early leads in national polls were much bigger than Obama's lead over McCain. In Democratic primaries, Obama has done a good job as a last minute closer. But the general election is not a Democratic primary, and he is going to have to do more than pile up the votes of liberals to win the electoral college.

I do think he can win. But it isn't going to be a landslide, and the country as a whole will be much more skeptical of his televangelist persona than committed liberals have been. The general will probably come down to turnout in a few swing states again.
3.1.2008 11:30am
JosephSlater (mail):
Oh, and Russ, since McCain still is apparently saying that he is "proud" of Hagee's endorsement (you know, the guy that calls the Catholic Church a "whore"), do you think McCain will have any problems with Catholics?
3.1.2008 11:31am
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
Oh dear, I would think we need to leven this discussion with a little humor. Do any of you remember this hit song from the 1970's?


Crowd

Obama, Hey 'bama, Bama Bama O'
Bama Hey Bama O' Bama
Hey H C, H C step aside for me
Bama O' Bama Hey SUPERSTAR!

Hillary Clinton

Tell the rabble to be quiet
We anticipate a riot
This common crowd
Is much too loud
Tell the mob who sing your song
That they are fools and they are wrong
They are a curse
They should disperse

Crowd

Obama, Hey 'bama, Bama Bama O'
Bama Hey Bama O' Bama
Hey H C, H C you're dead meat to me
Bama O' Bama Hey SUPERSTAR!

Barak Obama

Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?
Nothing can be done to stop the shouting
If ev'ry tongue was still the noise would still continue
The rocks and stones themselves would start to sing:

Crowd, with Obama

Obama, Hey 'bama, Bama Bama O'
Bama Hey Bama O' Bama
Hey H C, H C we will stomp on thee
Bama O' Bama Hey SUPERSTAR!

3.1.2008 11:57am
Russ (mail):
JosephSlater,

Yes, I am confident about Florida, due to the Cuban population in Miami, the Panhandle, and recent demographic trends. Gilchrist's endorsement there also enormously helps McCain. Yes, I realize that endorsements don't normally matter, but there are a few that do, and Gilchrist's is one, especially given that he came out for McCain prior to his claiming the nomination.

I said in my original post that my evidence was anecdotal. However, to hear a few staunch democrats talk the way they have about never supporting Obama due to some of his associations was a great shock.

Finally, it's possible that McCain will have a problem with Catholics. But I don't think he'll have a problem winning the states I mentioned due to that. His "Catholic problems" will come in New York, MA, Pennsylvania, and other states that he's not likely to win anyway.

Once again, I'm not predicting a McCain or Obama win in November. My point was to dispute MadHatChemist's notion that Obama will win 30-35 states, which neither candidate is going to do.
3.1.2008 12:34pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Russ: Fair enough

Dennis Nicholls: Brilliant!!!
3.1.2008 1:35pm
LM (mail):
RattlerGator,

Haven't y'all noticed? On a superficial level, white women -- even Democrats -- do not like her.

Really?
3.1.2008 2:26pm
LM (mail):
Hewart,

Really, it seems to me that you don't resort to childishly mocking a guy's middle name unless you're pretty insecure about your own candidate and think Obama's a threat. Or, you're just a playground bully. I wonder which might apply to so many in the modern GOP?

Not mutually exclusive.
3.1.2008 2:30pm
Jmaie (mail):
Hewart, could you please point out the mockery in LM's post? Or does *any* usage of the middle name automatically qualify...
3.1.2008 3:00pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
I agree somewhat that the poor are getting screwed. For me, the turning point was BAPCPA. I think the BAPCPA was really unjust and represents a poke in the eye to America's poor and working class. And if I recollect properly, most bankruptcy judges and law professors feel the act is a disaster as well.

While I don't think it is proper for government to redraw the results of the free market in ways they think are more "fair," I also think it was improper for the government to come in on the side of the creditors and help them to squeeze the poor even more tightly than market forces already allow.

I think chapter 7 should have been left alone. If there was such intense concern over excessive bankruptcy filings, congress should have addressed the underlying cause for the increase- health care prices propped up by hundreds of billions in yearly government subsidies.
3.1.2008 4:21pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
So much for editing. I was attempting to drawing a contrast between the "soak the rich" type market manipulation that the left is generally fond of to the BAPCPA, which represents the same type of meddling in the other direction.
3.1.2008 4:28pm
LM (mail):
Jmaie,

Huh?
3.1.2008 4:51pm
Jmaie (mail):
Sorry, meant BruceM's post...
3.1.2008 5:05pm
LM (mail):
No problem.
3.1.2008 10:17pm
Jmaie (mail):
I'm still hoping to hear Hewart's answer. If the Obama camp yells every time his middle name is used, it's gonna be a long tiresome campaign.
3.2.2008 12:10am
Truth Seeker:
TigerHawk via Instapundit has this excellent point re B. Hussein Obama's name:

Does anybody doubt that if a Republican politician's middle name were "Hitler," "Franco," "Mussolini," or even just "Benito" it would come up constantly on Bill Maher's program or "The Daily Show"? Of course it would. Well, what's the difference? Barack Obama is unfortunate insofar as his middle name evokes one of the most revolting, brutal, disgusting sub-human creatures to walk the earth in the late 20th century. Chalk it up to yet another imperfection -- however tiny and trivial -- in the Imperfect Vessel.
3.2.2008 1:10am
MarkField (mail):

it's gonna be a long tiresome campaign.


It's getting more tiresome with every post.
3.2.2008 10:10am
Jmaie (mail):
I'm sorry you feel that way, but I think the question is still valid. I also think you may be reading motive where there is none.

It seems likely that a few individuals (think talk radio) will yell "Hussein" for the sole purpose of whipping up red-state America. On the flip side will be the OB supporters decrying the first group's even mentioning the middle name. I think both these positions are wrong.

Overall the strategy is dangerous for the republicans. It may gain some marginal votes but turn off independents in far greater numbers.
****

In my perfect world, the candidate's names/race/gender would be irrelevant. Issues would be discussed civilly and meaningfully, candidates positions would be the deciding factor in winning elections. Those on either side using trickery and falsehood would be recognized as such and discredited, to be ignored by the electorate.

Instead we will have Hewart and Tigerhawk.
3.2.2008 1:02pm
Left-Right-Left-Right:
Well, Truth Seeker, if that is such an excellent point, perhaps you can explain to us exactly what relevance "Hussein" as a middle name is to Obama's candidacy or future presidency? Do you seriously believe he is in league with Dr. Doom or whatever to bring down the U.S.--because of his middle name??!

A name is a name is a name. BFD.
3.2.2008 4:34pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
One problem is that "Hussein" is an incredibly common name in the Middle East. IIUC it's like Smith or Jones over here.

King Hussein of Jordan was a moderate who helped calm the waters on many occasions and was a friend of the United States.
3.2.2008 8:26pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):

In my perfect world, the candidate's names/race/gender would be irrelevant.


However, there is a real problems with names. If it weren't for their names, would there have been a President JQ Adams? Or FD Roosevelt? Or GW Bush? Or the candidacy of HR Clinton?
3.2.2008 8:34pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
I'm thirsty now. Maybe I'll go drink an Adolph Coors beer.....
3.2.2008 8:36pm
Deoxy (mail):
In my perfect world, the candidate's names/race/gender would be irrelevant.

Yes, that.

As such, I don't want Obama OR Clinton as even candidates, as they are both running significantly on their race/gender.

I have no problem with a black President. I have no problem with a woman President. I have LOTS of problems with a socialist President, which either of them would in large part be.
3.3.2008 2:29pm
Aleks:
Re: Obama's negatives will only go up.

The GOP will do their best to portray Obama as an extremist, but this year is starting to look like a mirror image of 1980: an unpopular president from a party that is seen as having nothing but outmoded and useless ideas, a foreign policy debacle, a tanking economy, outrageously expensive gasoline... Sure, the GOP will play the extremist card, but will it work any better than it did against Reagan in 1980? Unless McCain manages to run hard and fast against George Bush and all he represents (and thereby outrages the rightwing base), I don't see how he can overcome the ugly legacy of the last eight years.

Re: Gilchrist's endorsement there also enormously helps McCain.

I live in Florida and I have never heard of any "Gilchrist". Unless you have somehow mangled our popular GOP governor's name (Crist)? His endorsement may well carry some weight among independents down here.
By the way I'm not so sure the Cubans are all that hostile to Democrats these days. South Florida trended Democrat in 2006, and much of the Cuban community is rather cold to the GOP these days due to George Bush's harsher rules about visiting their relatives back home.
3.3.2008 9:48pm
RattlerGator (mail) (www):
Me: On a superficial level, white women -- even Democrats -- do not like her.

LM: Really?

LM, you're going to use a HuffPost piece to refute this speculation of mine? Seriously? Well, yes, LM -- really. White women not in the blue states on the coasts. White women in the rest of America, majority America. This isn't about racial prejudice. But when a woman who has received the extraordinary blessings of this society such as Michelle Obama has received, and still talks the kind of yang that woman talks, sorry LM but that generates pure resentment.

I'm more than happy to see how the race unfolds but I'm pretty confident about this prediction. She is going to be an anchor around his neck and that die is already cast.
3.4.2008 9:51am