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McCain leads Obama in RCP composite.

In the Real Clear Politics composite, McCain now leads Obama for the first time since March: 46.7% to 45.7%.

This is in part because the Gallup / USA Today Poll switched in one week from Obama up 7% to McCain up 10% — a staggering increase for McCain of 17%.

Tony R:
The lack of reliability of polls during the last few election cycles is troubling. I remember a poll taken a few days before a state contest in the Obama/Clinton primary being off by over 15%. Dewey defeats Truman notwithstanding, this seems to be a recent trend towards unreliability. I'm a firm believer in not paying much attention to these polls but one has to think that there would be a considerable deterrent to voting if people watching pre-election coverage think elections are "over." Perhaps more troubling, however, is the increasing unreliability of exit polling. Maybe it's not the polling that's unreliable . . .
9.8.2008 4:44am
jgshapiro (mail):
The composite doesn't really matter except for bragging rights. Didn't we all learn that from 2000? What matters is the the breakdown of the electoral college, not a prediction of how the national popular vote will go.

Obama is still ahead in the electoral vote predictions, based on state by state polling. It's either:

238/BHO - 174/JSM - 126/TOSS, or
273/BHO - 265/JSM (if you eliminate the toss-ups).

But it sure is getting more interesting . . .
9.8.2008 4:59am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Obama is still ahead in the electoral vote predictions, based on state by state polling.
Yes, but many of those polls are old. Just to pick one example, for Virginia, the most recent poll is 8/22.
9.8.2008 5:16am
paul lukasiak (mail):
I thought the CBS poll (9/1 to 9/3), which showed the race tied at 42%, was an outlier. But this new Gallup poll suggests that the CBS poll was on the mark.

What I think this new poll shows is not so much the "bounce" from the GOP convention as the failure of the Dem Convention to to make more than a temporary dent in the trends that were apparent before the last two weeks. Before the conventions, Obama's numbers were, if not in freefall, sliding down an icy slope toward an abyss. The Biden pick and the convention were a sapling that Team Obama grabbed onto -- but like all saplings, its roots were not deep, and one good push uprooted the tree....
9.8.2008 5:39am
Sam H (mail):
I think the problem is that their sample size (IIRC, around 1,000) is way too small. It probably should be around a million, which would be close to 1% of the expected popular vote.
9.8.2008 6:11am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"It probably should be around a million, which would be close to 1% of the expected popular vote."

This is a common misconception about the accuracy of polls. It's the number of people sampled, not the fraction sampled. We don't need an infinite sample for an infinite population. Here are the problems with political polls.

1. Response bias. This was the problem with the Literary Digest poll.

2. Measurement error. This occurs when people don't respond truthfully.

3. Sampling frame. If it's a telephone poll you miss the people who don't own phones.

4. In the case of political polls, you can only poll likely voters. There is no way to know who will actually vote.

5. Volatility. The voters are changing their minds as time progresses.

6. How will the undecided vote?

If you handle all those problems, then a sample of 1,000 should give around 3% accuracy.

In the case of close presidential elections, the poll should be designed to predict the electoral vote, not the popular vote.
9.8.2008 6:59am
paul lukasiak (mail):
I think the problem is that their sample size (IIRC, around 1,000) is way too small. It probably should be around a million, which would be close to 1% of the expected popular vote.


insofar as just about all national polling is done with a sample of approximately 1000, the problem isn't the sample size....and there is a law of diminishing returns here. Sure, a sample 1000 times larger will reduce the margin of error, but given the level of 'non-responsers', spending 1000 times more for a poll in order to reduce the MOE is a waste of effort.
9.8.2008 6:59am
Splunge:
Those are unholy numbers. I've never seen a shift like that so fast, and I've paid attention to every election since Jimmy Carter squeaked by Gerry Ford in 1976. I think those numbers are going to catch everybody in both campaigns and probably the media a little flat-footed, a little gasping for breath, as in, WTF just happened? I'm not sure Team Obama knows what to do to counter the Palin tidal wave, and I'm not sure Team McCain knows what to do to ride it. These are strange times.
9.8.2008 7:08am
A. Zarkov (mail):
I think these latest polls mean nothing as far as the ultimate election is concerned. But I am puzzled as to why BHO is not walking away with this election given the tremendous dissatisfaction the voters have with GOP. McCain is an ersatz liberal, and I'm not fooled by his bogus shifts on issues like the tax cuts. McCain will raise taxes as surely as BHO because the GOP is just as addicted to spendings as the Democrats. The more you spend, the more there is to steal.

Why choose an ersatz liberal when you can have the real thing: BHO?
9.8.2008 7:30am
paul lukasiak (mail):
I'm not sure Team Obama knows what to do to counter the Palin tidal wave, and I'm not sure Team McCain knows what to do to ride it. These are strange times.


I think Team McCain knows exactly what it is doing -- it has had a general election plan in play for months, and while making crucial adjustments in that plan, is sticking to it.

For instance, "Palin" was just such an adjustment -- but not a huge one. McCain wanted a VP who would polish his tarnished "Maverick" image, and draw a line between the "old" (Bush) and "new" (McCain) GOP. He wanted someone young who most people were only vaguely aware (if at all) aware of who represented a "new breed" of Republican. Pawlenty appears to have been the initial choice, but announcing Pawlenty the day after the Dem Convention would not have "changed the conversation" -- Palin immediately made the Dem convention (and Obama's big speech) irrelevant in ways that Pawlenty never could -- so the adjustment was made, and Palin got the pick.

Team Obama, on the other hand, had no general election strategy in mind other than not having an "R" after Obama's name. Unlike Team McCain, Team Obama made no effort to solidify his base after the primaries; they treated the Democratic base as if "they have no where else to go", and lurched to the right (FISA, appeals to evangelicals) in an effort to cut into McCain's base rather than define himself for "the middle" who had paid little or no attention to the primaries.

Team Obama failed to learn the lesson of the last three months of the primary season --- his victories through February came about because Clinton made no active/direct effort to define Obama, allowing Obama to get away with his "I'm the candidate of your dreams" campaign. Team McCain chipped away at Obama for months (e.g. 'arrogant'), setting the conditions in which the "Britney/Paris" ad would be released three weeks before the conventions, and it work to crystalize the doubts and queations about Obama

The Biden pick displayed the panic in the Obama campaign -- Biden contradicted everything that Obama had been saying and doing up until that point, but picking Biden was necessary to 'reassure' voters and stop the hemorrhaging of support. And now, while McCain is positioning himself for the middle, Team Obama is desperately trying to secure its base with its "abortion" ad, and (thereby) virtually erasing the whole effort to appeal to evangelicals.
9.8.2008 7:53am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
Haven't you answered your own question, AZ? If voters are dissatisfied with the GOP and McCain is an ersatz liberal, maybe that's why they like him? Not that I think you're right, but your objection is a bit self-contradictory.

Why I don't think you're right is that a lot of the unpopularity of the GOP (executive and legislative) comes from conservatives disappointed with Bush's wishy-washiness and Congress's corruption and ineptitude. McCain doesn't seem the right man to seize on the former problem, but (a) Palin is the right woman, and (b) Obama was already driving a lot of conservatives towards McCain as the lesser of two evils.
9.8.2008 7:57am
Darkmage (mail) (www):
The most important thing to remember in all of the polling is the lack of polling in the youth vote. According to Pew, 25% of 18-29 year olds don't have land lines, and therefore don't get polled. Obama polls extremely well with this age group. So until McCain is ahead in all polls by 6-8% or more I wouldn't start thinking he's actually ahead. The only people I know who are currently strongly supporting him with no doubts are my parents (and I'm 34 - I'm sure it's worse with the younger set).
9.8.2008 8:36am
Toby:
I hope the polling is in absolute melt-down.

I can think of nothing more harmful to the polity of the US than the media concentrating on the horse race instead of the issues.

If the loonies on the democrat side hadn't believed their polls so strongly, they might not have spent the last 8 years complaining about theft and becoming more partisan. As they grew more partisan, they both degraded the political culture (see SP rumors, etc) and they reduced their own chances to present effective counterbalanaces to the republicans.

I look forward to 90% of everyone having cell phones and all of the polling organizations going in the tank. It will be best for all of us.
9.8.2008 8:46am
Jerome Cole (mail) (www):
@Dark Image: A large percentage of this demographic is far from home at college and are thus unlikely to vote. The ones not inclined to attend college are probably even less likely to vote or even be registered. We've been waiting for the "Youth Vote" to change American politics and I suspect we will be waiting forever, because it's not going to happen.
9.8.2008 8:53am
paul lukasiak (mail):
According to Pew, 25% of 18-29 year olds don't have land lines, and therefore don't get polled.


from the same study...

Yet despite these differences, the absence of this group from traditional telephone surveys has only a minimal impact on the results. Specifically, the study shows that including cell-only respondents with those interviewed from a standard landline sample, and weighting the resulting combined sample to the full U.S. public demographically, changes the overall results of the poll by no more than one percentage point on any of nine key political questions included in the study.

Polling firms try to achieve demographic balance...and that includes the age demographics. So they will work to include a sufficient number of 18-29 year olds in their surveys and/or weight the resulted to reflect the proper proportion of age cohorts.

Moreover, "random dialing" techniques do not discriminate between cell and land lines, and cell phones are included in polls that use 'random dialing'.

In other words, the whole "young people aren't being included in the surveys because they use cell phones" is just a myth -- one that, had you bothered to read the full article that you linked to, you'd have figured out yourself.
9.8.2008 8:55am
Darkmage (mail) (www):
No, it is against federal law to include cell phones in random dialing lists, which I'm pretty sure was mentioned in that same article...if not then another I read.

I'm just saying that the polling is off, demonstrated by the complete lack of McCain supporters I can find, and I work on a military base.

Of course, I'm voting Barr. :P
9.8.2008 9:02am
paul lukasiak (mail):

No, it is against federal law to include cell phones in random dialing lists, which I'm pretty sure was mentioned in that same article...if not then another I read.


I'm afraid you misread the report. What is prohibited is not "random" dialing, but "automated" disling.

Interviewing people on cell phones presents several challenges that require new procedures and have implications for overall costs. Among the most important of these is the fact that federal law prohibits the use of automated dialing devices when calling cell phones; thus each number in the cell phone sample had to be dialed manually.
9.8.2008 9:18am
PersonFromPorlock:
A. Zarkov:

...I am puzzled as to why BHO is not walking away with this election....

We pick presidents more on perceived character than policy, which is rational because 'character' tells us most reliably how well a president will react to unexpected events. In McCain's case, his history and his picking a strong running mate imply considerable strength of character; in Obama's case, the longer he campaigns the less there seems to be any 'there' there.
9.8.2008 9:24am
jrose:
I guess the public is buying into the narrative that McCain is the change agent, while at the same time Palin energizes the Bush base. If this works, will Palin be just a bone thrown to conservatives in order to buy their votes?
9.8.2008 9:39am
Curt Fischer:
A friend of mine recently pointed me to http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ . This guy takes polling data he can find, and instead of just averaging it all, he applies some basic Monte Carlo simulations to give probabilities of various outcomes, rather than polling percentages.

Very well done, and very thorough. Interesting tidbits from the site:

1. Colorado is as much a swing state as Ohio this election.
2. Obama has a supposed ~60% chance to win at least all the states Kerry won in '04, but McCain has only a 3% chance to win all of Bush's states in '04.
3. The chance of a recount happening in at least one state is supposedly 10x higher than having a tied electoral vote.
9.8.2008 9:44am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Nierporent,

And the polls for Pennsylvania are even older. It wouldn't surprise me if McCain wasn't leading in Pennsylvania now post Palin, and suddenly with that a lead in electoral votes.

Says the "Dog"
9.8.2008 10:14am
The Ace (mail):
It wouldn't surprise me if McCain wasn't leading in Pennsylvania

Yep:

Obama in PA:


"Nitally Lions"



And,


"If you've got a gun in your house, I'm not taking it,'' Obama said. But the Illinois senator could still see skeptics in the crowd, particularly on the faces of several men at the back of the room.

So he tried again. "Even if I want to take them away, I don't have the votes in Congress,'' he said. "This can't be the reason not to vote for me. Can everyone hear me in the back? I see a couple of sportsmen back there. I'm not going to take away your guns.''


His campaign is melting down and he knows it - he's going to be in Michigan 3 times this week - and the gaffes will start coming in a flurry.

Despite his rep, Obama is horrible on the stump and off the cuff and I can not wait to see how bad it gets.
9.8.2008 10:24am
The Ace (mail):
The most important thing to remember in all of the polling is the lack of polling in the youth vote

Those are recycled talking points from 2004.

Those people do not vote in very strong numbers.
9.8.2008 10:27am
rarango (mail):
I think Paul L's commentary re the Obama campaign team is right on the mark. They should have done some serious soul searching after Senator Clinton's string of primary victories at the end of the democrat campaign. Looks to me like they settled on a strategy of making Senator Obama appear presidential (the seal, the overseas trip) and lost sight of basics. It didnt work for Senator Clinton, and it appears it didnt work for Senator Obama. With the high negatives the Rs have, this should have been a cakewalk for Ds IMO.
9.8.2008 10:37am
paul lukasiak (mail):

I guess the public is buying into the narrative that McCain is the change agent, while at the same time Palin energizes the Bush base. If this works, will Palin be just a bone thrown to conservatives in order to buy their votes?


Palin was instrumental in getting people to buy the McCain<>Bush concept... she sent a variety of messages to different constituencies that Obama was having problems with.
9.8.2008 10:38am
Anderson (mail):
Gallup's "likely voter" model is said to be dubious, but as someone who's been pleased to see Obama on top of the polls, I will cheerfully concede that it's better to be dubiously ahead than dubiously behind.

What I'm curious about, as some above are, is how much of this reflects increased support from red-state voters who, electorally, don't matter, vs. the votes that McCain needs from swing states.

But regardless, McCain is doing quite well for himself post-convention -- we'll see how it stands up.
9.8.2008 10:46am
rarango (mail):
Roger Simon (not Roger L) did a piece on the Obama campaign's primary fight. Quite complimentary. For the life of me I do not understand why the dems jumped on Sarah Palin so hard. All they had to do was say oh hum, interesting pick, kinda like Dan Quayle, and let it go. Instead the assaults on Governor Palin went a long way to make her a heroine and really energize the republican base. And it made it appear that Obama was running against Palin, not John McCain, although I note the seem to be letting reality seep in now. I thought Axlerod's team was smarter than that.
9.8.2008 10:54am
enjointhis:
I really enjoy reading the comments on this blog, as they're usually thought-provoking and entertaining. Stripped of the rhetorical flourishes, I think Mr. Lukasiak's 6:53 a.m. analysis feels pretty close to accurate. [Prior to law school, I spent a few years in the political campaign universe, although my instincts may have been dulled a bit over time.] I think #3 of A.Zarkov's 5:59 a.m. post will probably be determinative: I sense many people will decline to vote for Mr. Obama because of his skin color, although that bias won't be admitted to in a poll.
9.8.2008 10:59am
Hoosier:
rarango--I've also been surprised by the missteps that Axlerod has been responsible for, or at least not prevented.

In Chicago in the '8o, he was viewed as simply unbeatable. When he signed on to a campaign, the other claimants might just as well be Republicans: They had no chance.

He doesn't have anywhere near as good sense of national politics. Not a surprise, but you get national campaign directors from state and local campaigns. Perhaps he's really a Cook County guy.
9.8.2008 10:59am
JosephSlater (mail):
New Rasmussen just out. McCain is up 1 in both registered and likely voters.

If the Gallup poll reflects reality more, McCain has indeed done quite well for himself.

If Rasmussen is right, the convention bump only got McCain more-or-less back to even.

State polls will tell us more.
9.8.2008 11:00am
TruthInAdvertising:
Gallup's Likely Voters, which has McCain up by 10 points, includes at least 10% who are unregistered voters. The Registered Voter margin is much tighter.
9.8.2008 11:17am
whoa there:
I don't give much credence to any individual poll, but the RCP Average usually hits it dead-on. Any of the nitpicking problems that people have noted above are minimized by the fact that this is an average, so, for example, one poll undercounting the youth vote will not have a significant effect on the result.

The Obama campaign should officially be nervous right now. The momentum is gone, and when you look behind the curtain, well, there's just not much else there.
9.8.2008 11:18am
nnn (mail):
Intrade seems to have McCain up to the high 40s, really close to 50-50. What happened today to make the market jump that much (5-6 points in a single day)?
9.8.2008 11:19am
Calculated Risk:
nnn,

I would bet that Intrade would tend to follow, rather than lead, polls.
9.8.2008 11:29am
LN (mail):
rarango -- Andrew Sullivan does not work for the Obama campaign.

If I recall correctly the first official Obama response to the Palin pick was that McCain was putting someone who was a small-town mayor 18 months ago a heartbeat away from the Presidency. The next official statement was that Palin's family was off-limits, that Obama's mother was 18 when he was born, etc.

I'm interested in what can cause a 17-point swing in the polls so quickly. The Palin pick certainly energized the Republican base, and of course the convention is uninterrupted free advertising. But I would never have thought that this would add up to 1 in 10 voters changing their minds.
9.8.2008 11:33am
The Ace (mail):
For the life of me I do not understand why the dems jumped on Sarah Palin so hard.

Here is why:


The rank bullying of the Clinton candidacy during the primary season has the distinction of simply being the first revelation of how misogynistic the party has become. The media led the assault, then the Obama campaign continued it. Trailblazer Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first Democratic vice presidential candidate, was so taken aback by the attacks that she publicly decried nominee Barack Obama as "terribly sexist" and openly criticized party chairman Howard Dean for his remarkable silence on the obvious sexism.


They are a bunch of "progressives" who think that obviously a woman's place is at home with her 5 children (when women aren't being used as sexual toys by the likes of Bill Clinton and John Edwards that is).
9.8.2008 11:48am
JosephSlater (mail):
LN:

I suspect it was never a 17 point swing. Few other polls had Obama as far ahead as Gallup did, and as of now, no other polls have him that far behind.

I think the real numbers are that Obama led by a few for much of the summer; McCain was closing at the beginning of the Dem convention; Obama got a 4-5 point bump from his convention, and McCain got a 6-7 point bump from his, leading to a slight McCain lead (as per Rasmussen).

Now, maybe Gallup is right. On the other hand, maybe the convention bounce will fade. Lots of game left to be played.
9.8.2008 11:49am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Roger Simon (not Roger L) did a piece on the Obama campaign's primary fight. Quite complimentary. For the life of me I do not understand why the dems jumped on Sarah Palin so hard. All they had to do was say oh hum, interesting pick, kinda like Dan Quayle, and let it go. Instead the assaults on Governor Palin went a long way to make her a heroine and really energize the republican base. And it made it appear that Obama was running against Palin, not John McCain, although I note the seem to be letting reality seep in now. I thought Axlerod's team was smarter than that.
1. As for Axelrod's team: Obama's victory over Hillary had a lot to do with (a) Hillary's team assuming she had won before it started, and not really bothering to strategize past Super Tuesday, and (b) Hillary's team misunderstanding the Democratic delegate allocation rules. (Under the Dems' rules, it was better to win a small state by a lot than a big state by a little. Hillary tried to win big states -- and she did well on that score, Illinois excepted for obvious reasons -- but it didn't do her much good.) In the general election, the dynamic is different. And there are no caucuses.

2. Democrats jumped on Palin so hard because they've comforted themselves the last 8 (40) years with the thought that they lose presidential elections because Republicans are mean rather than because Democratic ideas aren't as popular as they think. So they've resolved to be mean themselves, thinking that this is the way to win.

3. I agree it was a terrible decision. Even if they had succeeded in tearing down Palin, which they didn't, getting into a debate as to whether Obama was more qualified than Palin just makes Obama seem less presidential. Plus, it just plays into Republican hands, reinforcing their message that Democrats think they're better than you are.

4. All that having been said, while McCain is definitely beating the spread (so to speak), Obama is still probably the better bet to actually win the race.
9.8.2008 11:53am
The Ace (mail):
You can't make this stuff up:


Democrat Barack Obama says he would delay rescinding President Bush's tax cuts on wealthy Americans if he becomes the next president and the economy is in a recession, suggesting such an increase would further hurt the economy.

Nevertheless, Obama has no plans to extend the Bush tax cuts beyond their expiration date, as Republican John McCain advocates. Instead, Obama wants to push for his promised tax cuts for the middle class, he said in a broadcast interview aired Sunday.

"Even if we're still in a recession, I'm going to go through with my tax cuts," Obama said. "That's my priority."

What about increasing taxes on the wealthy?

"I think we've got to take a look and see where the economy is. I mean, the economy is weak right now," Obama said on "This Week" on ABC. "The news with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, I think, along with the unemployment numbers, indicates that we're fragile."


Funny, but if the left is the "reality based community" why is Obama always moving right?
9.8.2008 11:58am
jrose:
paul lukasiak: Palin was instrumental in getting people to buy the McCain<>Bush concept... she sent a variety of messages to different constituencies that Obama was having problems with.

Can Obama take advantage of the inconsistency (McCain is both Bush and not Bush) in the variety of messages?
9.8.2008 12:06pm
therut:
He moves right because the left wing version of economics is all wrong. It is pandering. It can only go so far so they do not kill the goose that lays their golden egg. It is a fine line they walk. If the goose slows down and is one tax hike or social program from death then well.....atlas might shrug.
9.8.2008 12:10pm
Brian Mac:

I would bet that Intrade would tend to follow, rather than lead, polls.

I don't think it's so simple. Often Intrade absorbs new information before it's reflected in the polls. Both Fred Thompson and George Allen (remember him?) shot up in the markets for Republican presidential nominee long before they were even part of the pollsters' questions.

Besides Obama's drop in value, has anyone noticed that the price for Hilary being the next president has shot up to 3.5 in the last few days? Does anyone seriously think that Obama will be pressured into withdrawing?
9.8.2008 12:11pm
byomtov (mail):
The Ace,

What exactly do you find strange about Obama's position? He's not "moving right." he's saying that in a recession you have to be careful about increasing taxes. That's a perfectly sensible position. He's saying that he is willing to take current circumstances into account.

Isn't it just basic common sense? Contrast that to Bush and McCain, who want to cut taxes always regardless of anything. It's the difference between ideology and a pragmatic approach to problems.

If your brain's instruction set weren't limited to "criticize Democrats," you'd understand the value of that.

I think if Obama announced that the sky is blue you and some of the others here would say something about how it was gray yesterday when it rained and add your typical killer argument - "laughing out loud."
9.8.2008 12:22pm
The Ace (mail):
He's not "moving right."

Is this what people like tell yourselves in order to get through the day?

Um, how then, do you explain this?

He not only wants to continue some of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, he actually wants to extend them, and he hasn't told us really how he's going to pay for them. It is irresponsible.


Don't worry, your answer will be incoherent and dissembling.

Either it is "irresponsible" or it isn't.

Contrast that to Bush and McCain, who want to cut taxes always regardless of anything.

Except you have no proof of that.


If your brain's instruction set weren't limited to "criticize Democrats," you'd understand the value of that.


Parody.
9.8.2008 12:29pm
Brian Mac:

He's not "moving right." he's saying that in a recession you have to be careful about increasing taxes. That's a perfectly sensible position.

And that's been his position all along...
9.8.2008 12:31pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Polls with sample sizes of around a million are usually garbage, b/c it's very hard to get a probability sample of 1 million. If nonresponse weren't a problem -- and it's a BIG problem, a poll of 700-1000 would be fine. With a close election (within 3 points), even with a big sample of 3,000, the nonresponse problem tends to be larger than the sampling size/margin of error problem.
9.8.2008 12:33pm
The Ace (mail):
What exactly do you find strange about Obama's position?

It isn't "strange"

He's simply a pandering liar.


During an hour-long talk, Obama promoted eliminating some of the income tax cuts enacted under President Bush, but resisted characterizing them as a tax increase.

The Illinois senator said that as president, he would roll back income tax cuts for higher incomes to pay for his policy proposals.



Again, people like you have no principles. Just "be in power" which is why you excuse such incoherence on Obama's part.

He's not "moving right."

Yes he is.
Remember when he said this?


I opposed this war from the beginning. I opposed the war in 2002. I opposed it in 2003. I opposed it in 2004. I opposed it in 2005. I opposed it in 2006. I introduced a plan in January to remove all of our combat brigades by next March [e.d. -that is March 2008]. And I am here to say that we have to begin to end this war now.


He has since moved to the right.
You not liking that fact and it being true are two different things.
9.8.2008 12:34pm
The Ace (mail):
he's saying that in a recession you have to be careful about increasing taxes. That's a perfectly sensible position

Um, yeah:


Democrat Barack Obama said Sunday that if elected he will push to increase the amount of income that currently is taxed to provide monthly Social Security benefits.

But during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Obama said subjecting more of a person's income to the payroll tax is the option he would push for if elected president.


But now he wants to extend "irresponsible" tax cuts and apparently there is no movement on his position or anything.
9.8.2008 12:42pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Hotline/Diageo:

Obama 44 (46)
McCain 44 (40)
9.8.2008 12:52pm
Arkakdy:

In the Real Clear Politics composite, McCain now leads Obama for the first time since March: 46.7% to 45.7%.



Well, it could have been a moribund cat bounce.
9.8.2008 12:59pm
08 voter:
Those who say Obama is gaffe-prone and bad on the stump and compare him to Bush make me laugh out loud. Who are you kidding? Have you heard your candidate even talk? (I'm assuming you support McCain.)
9.8.2008 1:08pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
"He's saying that he is willing to take current circumstances into account."

Wheni it pertains to policy positions, this is called "waffling", one of Obama's few basic skills. It's the position that exists somewhere between "maybe I will" and "maybe I won't" and is physically characterized by hands clenched tightly about the ankles.
9.8.2008 1:14pm
Anderson (mail):
He's saying that he is willing to take current circumstances into account

I don't understand the idea that a good candidate has to sound like an idiot.

I *do* understand that idea as a dishonest, partisan position -- which explains at least some of the above comments.

Keynes's line is the gold standard (ha): "When the facts change, I change my opinion accordingly. What do you do?"
9.8.2008 1:20pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Polls almost always show african american candidates doing better than they turn out doing (the Bradley Effect). Assuming Obama is not immune to this phenomenon, the McCain lead is probably larger than it appears and the Obama leads in the past were probably smaller than they appear. How much larger or smaller is an interesting question. But I doubt a lead of 2.1% for McCain (even if we focus solely on national polls) is really that small.

As for the 18-29 set not owning landlines, that may be true, but they tend not to register or to vote as reliably as their older citizens who do own landlines. Also, on the younger side of that range (college students), they were likely not old enough to vote in the last election, so you cannot use past voting behavior as a predictor for voting this year.

It may turn out that younger voters who actually vote (since they lean towards Obama) cancel out the Bradley Effect, so that the poll numbers are actually accurate. But who knows which group is larger -- people claiming to vote for BHO for appearance purposes, or the net-BHO youth vote?
9.8.2008 1:24pm
rarango (mail):
LN--I do understand that much of the garbage levelled against Palin did not come from the Obama campaign, nor could he do much to tamp down the moonbats--But perceptions are reality, and for those that perceive the MSM as in the pocket of liberals, it wasnt a hard stretch--perhaps not fair--but certainly not a hard stretch.
9.8.2008 1:26pm
Brian Mac:

Keynes's line is the gold standard (ha): "When the facts change, I change my opinion accordingly. What do you do?"

Perhaps you could draw on your post-partisan wisdom to tell us what facts have changed that caused Obama's opinion to shift? My wacky recollection is that Obama has been talking up the dire state of the US economy since way back in the primaries, but he wasn't too worried about the effects of rescinding Bush's tax cuts back then, was he?
9.8.2008 1:28pm
jgshapiro (mail):

The Biden pick displayed the panic in the Obama campaign -- Biden contradicted everything that Obama had been saying and doing up until that point, but picking Biden was necessary to 'reassure' voters and stop the hemorrhaging of support.

I don't think this is right. The Biden campaign took the "safe" route, picking a known candidate with obvious experience because they thought they were ahead. I don't think it displayed panic but instead arrogance: since they were going to win anyway, no need to pick someone who could swing an important state (e.g., Bayh, Kaine, Webb, Richardson) or who was consistent with their message (Kaine, Webb, Sebelius) or who appealed to the middle (Webb, Nunn, Hagel). It's like playing the "prevent" defense in football: you are playing not to lose.

The McCain campaign took the risky route because they thought they were losing and wanted a game-changer.

Both sides' picks make sense if their assumptions were correct. On the other hand, if Obama's lead was really as shallow as it now seems, it may have been a mistake not to pick someone who would grab more independents. And if McCain was safer than he appeared to be (because Obama was already slipping pre-convention), then he should have picked Romney or Kasich or Portman, safer (and more boring) choices that would have not generated nearly the media firestorm that Palin has.
9.8.2008 1:35pm
loki13 (mail):
The Ace,

You must be loving this poll. Does it break out white female voters? Does McCain have 65% of that demographic yet?

(So.... close.... to NOVEMBER!)
9.8.2008 1:42pm
The Ace (mail):
Keynes's line is the gold standard (ha): "When the facts change, I change my opinion accordingly. What do you do?"

In April 2008 Obama said:

But let me be very clear about what I meant, because it's something that I've said in public, it's something that I've said in television, which is that people are going through very difficult times right now and we are seeing it all across the country. And that was true even before the current economic hardships that are stemming from the housing crisis. This is the first economic expansion that we just completed in which ordinary people's incomes actually went down, when adjusted for inflation, at the same time as their costs of everything from health care to gas at the pump have skyrocketed.


And he also said:

Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year -- $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That's not fair.


His campaign is imploding, and he's getting desperate.
This guy makes John Kerry seem principled.
9.8.2008 1:44pm
The Ace (mail):
loki13:


McCain leads by four points among men while Obama leads by three among women. On Tuesday, when Obama's lead peaked, he had a fourteen point advantage among women


I'm confident I'm going to win.
9.8.2008 1:47pm
iambatman:
Gallup is a notoriously erratic pollster, as that 17 points would indicate.
9.8.2008 1:48pm
The Ace (mail):
Those who say Obama is gaffe-prone and bad on the stump and compare him to Bush make me laugh out loud.

Really?

Want to take a guess as to who said this?

What they'll say is, "Well it costs too much money," but you know what? It would cost, about… It -- it -- it would cost about the same as what we would spend… It… Over the course of 10 years it would cost what it would costs us… All right. Okay. We're going to… It… It would cost us about the same as it would cost for about -- hold on one second. I can't hear myself. But I'm glad you're fired up, though. I'm glad.


You obviously don't know what "on the stump" means.
Bush was excellent on the stump, but stumbles in prepared remarks. Obama is the exact opposite.
9.8.2008 1:50pm
The Ace (mail):
By the way, as things are currently going I expect Obama to be pro-life by Thursday of this week...
9.8.2008 1:55pm
metro1 (mail) (www):

MCCAIN-PALIN CAMPAIGN RALLY INFORMATION


WHO: John McCain and Sarah Palin

WHAT: McCain-Palin Campaign Rally

WHEN: Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Doors open at 8:00 a.m. EDT
McCain-Palin Rally beings at 10:00 a.m. EDT

WHERE: Fairfax High School
3501 Rebel Run
Fairfax, VA 22030

The McCain/Palin rally will be held on Wednesday, September 10, 10:00 a.m., at Fairfax County High School. Doors Open at 8:00a.m.

Tickets will be available at Virginia.JohnMcCain.com or in-person by visiting one of the Virginia Victory offices on Monday, September 8th from 12:00p.m. to 9:00p.m. and Tuesday, September 9th from 9:00a.m. to 9:00p.m.

McCain-Palin Rally Ticket Distribution Sites

Virginia Victory 2008 State Headquarters
1235 S. Clark Street, First Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
(703) 955-4255

Fairfax Regional Victory Headquarters
4246 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 766-4467
9.8.2008 1:59pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
For those plugging the current electoral college estimate, the state polls are all 2-3 weeks old! When the new polls come out, Democrats are in for a shock.
9.8.2008 2:21pm
The Unbeliever:
Keynes's line is the gold standard (ha):
I won't say Anderson won the thread, but he's earned a coupon good for the next try.
9.8.2008 2:23pm
08 voter:
Actually, I've been following the Obama campaign closely and have heard him "on the stump" countless times.
9.8.2008 2:49pm
josh:
Look, don't try to engaged "The Ace". It does not matter what fact he hears. There's so much animus there that he's going to take the contradictory position no matter what.

Seriously, had Obama said he WAS going to repeal Bush's tax cuts regardless of the current mess of an economy, you think that would have won praise? If a candidate says the sky is blue, and an opponent/blog commenter says green, and then the candidate says green and the commenter flips to blue, there's not much good rational discussion can do for the situation.
9.8.2008 3:24pm
The Ace (mail):
It does not matter what fact he hears.

The problem here, is you can't post a relevant fact.

There's so much animus there that he's going to take the contradictory position no matter what.

Pointing out Obama is moving to the right is not me taking a "contradictory position."
It is pointing out he's a flip-flopper, desperate, and unprincipled. You can't respond to that fact, which is why you're typing silly bluster.


Seriously, had Obama said he WAS going to repeal Bush's tax cuts regardless of the current mess of an economy, you think that would have won praise?

Well, that was his position apparently.
But, I'm not looking to "praise" Obama.

If a candidate says the sky is blue, and an opponent/blog commenter says green, and then the candidate says green and the commenter flips to blue, there's not much good rational discussion can do for the situation.

Um, that didn't happen here.
9.8.2008 3:31pm
paul lukasiak (mail):

Can Obama take advantage of the inconsistency (McCain is both Bush and not Bush) in the variety of messages?


I don't think that McCain's message has been that he is Bush; that has been the Dems message about McCain (whenever they got around to having a message about McCain). The whole "Bush's third term" theme promoted by the Dems was a loser to begin with, because McCain already had a distinct identity, and voters had a generally favorable opinion of him while having a decidedly negative opinion of Bush.

At this point, the best Dem message about McCain would be to acknowledge his past Maverick status while emphasizing his support for/embrace of neo-conservative economic policies. Put McCain on the spot, and demand he explain how his economic philosophy changed from the fiscally responsibility he embraced when he voted against the Bush tax cuts to his current unequivocal support of them -- McCain won't be able to explain why he shifted, and voters will begin to question what he really stands for in terms of the economy.
9.8.2008 3:34pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):

When the new polls come out, Democrats are in for a shock.

There is no doubt that nationally McCain is getting some decent gains, but the bigger question is geographically, where those gains are coming from. Throughout the summer Obama has been running about 5-10 points ahead of where Kerry was against Bush in many of the red states. If McCain's gains are coming in some of these solid red states that Obama never really had a chance in and those numbers are reverting back to where they were four years ago, then McCain's national gains aren't as good as they seem. Now if these gains are coming from the swing states this year, then McCain fans really do have a lot to be happy about.
9.8.2008 3:38pm
SG:

At this point, the best Dem message about McCain would be to acknowledge his past Maverick status while emphasizing his support for/embrace of neo-conservative economic policies. Put McCain on the spot, and demand he explain how his economic philosophy changed from the fiscally responsibility he embraced when he voted against the Bush tax cuts to his current unequivocal support of them -- McCain won't be able to explain why he shifted, and voters will begin to question what he really stands for in terms of the economy.


Perhaps that would be a good strategy, but it's
too late


The Associated Press quotes Obama as now saying that "he would delay rescinding President Bush's tax cuts on wealthy Americans if he becomes the next president and the economy is in a recession, suggesting such an increase would further hurt the economy."
9.8.2008 3:55pm
David Drake:
Mr. Lukasiak--

I'm not Senator McCain, but I can explain why he's changed his position on the Bush tax cuts: because they worked--the economy expanded (OECD says US GDP is 19% greater today than when President Clinton left office, tax receipts are up (unfortunately, so is spending), wealthy paying more taxes today in terms of dollars paid and shares of tax burden, not in rates, etc.

Those who are arguing that Senator Obama is right for changing his position on the cuts--over a period of months--should give Senator McCain credit for changing his position over a period of years, especially when the results of the policy have become clear.
9.8.2008 4:07pm
Brian Mac:
Irregular verbs, part one:

I change my opinion to fit new facts;

You flip-flop;

He's a pandering liar.
9.8.2008 4:28pm
wfjag:

By the way, as things are currently going I expect Obama to be pro-life by Thursday of this week...


Well, on Meet the Press on Sunday, Sen. Biden said:


They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life — I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception.


Dear Ace: I think this Thursday is a little early for Sen. Obama to say "life begins at conception", although he's already starting to disavow his "above my pay grade" statement. Maybe after some of the state by state polling begins to show some safe blue states leaning red, he'll go that far. Still, this Thursday is too soon, since new state by state polling results probably won't come out till mid-month.
9.8.2008 4:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Contrast that to Bush and McCain, who want to cut taxes always regardless of anything.
Uh, McCain opposed the 2001 tax cuts. I am generally sympathetic to those who are concerned about deficits. There is a Keynesian argument for tax cuts in recessions (which is what Bush asked for and got) and tax increases to cool off a booming economy. Tax increases right now make absolutely no sense, except when pretending to screw the rich.

Remember that the reason that billionaires fund Democrats is that income tax increases don't hurt the rich. They hurt those who still have to work for a living, and are trying to become rich. Any person with more than $5 million in net assets only pays income taxes if they feel like it.
9.8.2008 4:38pm
paul lukasiak (mail):

but the bigger question is geographically, where those gains are coming from.


while not a national presidential poll, this SUSA poll on the impact of Palin suggests that improvement is pretty much across the board

Does McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate reflect well on McCain? Reflect poorly on McCain? Or do you not know enough to say?

Reflects well
Northeast 53%
Mideast 57%
South 57%
West 54%

Allowing for the predisposition of people to approve of what a candidate they already support does, its no surprise that the South (where McCain is strongest) is the region where he does the best. What is surprising is how well McCain does in the West -- considering how poorly he's doing in the most heavily populated states in the region (those on the pacific coast, which make up 2/3 of the population that the Census Bureau classifies as "West"). --not sure is SUSA and the Census bureau use the same states for their regional designations.)
9.8.2008 4:42pm
Blue:
The electoral vote game is only important in a very close race. If the national vote is even as wide as 52-48 the chance of an EV result that contradicts it is vanishingly small.
9.8.2008 4:43pm
jrose:
I'm not Senator McCain, but I can explain why he's changed his position on the Bush tax cuts: because they worked--the economy expanded (OECD says US GDP is 19% greater today than when President Clinton left office, tax receipts are up (unfortunately, so is spending), wealthy paying more taxes today in terms of dollars paid and shares of tax burden, not in rates, etc.

19% over 7 years is 2.5% per year. That's in line with historical rates. What makes you think it would have been smaller than 19% without the tax cuts?

Tax receipts as a % of GDP have been lower in every Bush fiscal year when compared to the final Clinton fiscal year, with GDP growing at historical rates. You don't really believe that receipts would be lower without the tax cut than they were with them?
9.8.2008 4:48pm
Curt Fischer:
Blue:

The electoral vote game is only important in a very close race. If the national vote is even as wide as 52-48 the chance of an EV result that contradicts it is vanishingly small.


An analysis from the site I mentioned earlier says that Obama (McCain) has a 4.2% (3.2%) chance of losing the popular vote, and winning the election. Throw in its estimated 1.1% chance for an electoral college tie, and we get to a total probability of 8.5% that the electoral vote will matter a very great deal. I do not think 8.5% is a vanishingly small number.
9.8.2008 5:10pm
jrose:
Uh, McCain opposed the 2001 tax cuts. I am generally sympathetic to those who are concerned about deficits. There is a Keynesian argument for tax cuts in recessions (which is what Bush asked for and got)

Doesn't McCain now oppose repealing those tax cuts, even after the economy is booming. And, the tax cuts were passed to be effective for 10 years, which means Bush didn't support them primarily to stimulate the economy in the short term.
9.8.2008 5:31pm
David Drake:
jrose--

It is quite possible that they would be. I believe that, if Senator Obama is elected and lets the tax cuts on capital and small business expire, tax receipts will likely decline. Senator Obama almost admitted as much in an interview with, I believe, ABC News, but said his goal was to increase "fairness," not tax receipts.

According to the OMB, Federal tax receipts increased over half a trillion dollars at FYB 10/1/06 ($2.56 trillion dollars) compared with FYB 10/1/99 ($2.025 trillion dollars)--the year of highest receipts under President Clinton. That's over a 26% increase.


Why is "Tax receipts as a % of GDP" a useful measure? Shouldn't the focus be on providing the funds the government needs? And isn't a LOWER share of tax receipts as a percent of GDP the appropriate goal, as it signals a more efficient tax system?

I know that taxes don't meet the government's needs, but that's because of increased spending. In shear numbers of dollars, tax receipts have increased under President Bush.
9.8.2008 5:34pm
The Ace (mail):
More polling:


Forty-one percent (41%) of voters say that they are certain they will cast their ballot for McCain and will not change their mind before November. Thirty-eight percent (38%) say the same about Obama. Overall, McCain is now viewed favorably by 60% of the nation's voters while Obama earns positive reviews from 55%


Which is why Obama is panicking.
9.8.2008 5:48pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Meanwhile, at In-trade, Obama picked up at bit at the end of the day: 53.4 Obama, 45.9 McCain. Better for McCain than yesterday, but worse than this morning, probably because the Gallup poll is proving to be an outlier. The race is tied or within the margin of error in other major polls.

Still anybody's ball game.
9.8.2008 5:58pm
jrose:
Why is "Tax receipts as a % of GDP" a useful measure?

Receipts will approximately be steady as a % of GDP if the tax code stays the same (there are second-order effects for a growing or shrinking economy). But, a tax cut will lower receipts as a % of GDP. The question is whether there is an increase in GDP (relative to without the tax cut) to make up the difference.

And isn't a LOWER share of tax receipts as a percent of GDP the appropriate goal, as it signals a more efficient tax system

Sure, if the total intake is the same. But that presupposes a higher GDP with the tax cut.

In shear numbers of dollars, tax receipts have increased under President Bush.

Which doesn't tell you anything about whether receipts would have been lower (and thus the debt higher) without the tax cut as compared to with the tax cut. And, yet that is what you are arguing.
9.8.2008 5:59pm
TruthInAdvertising:
ACE is one of the clown boys here. I'm still waiting for his response to McCain's outright lie about Palin selling the state jet on eBay for a profit.
9.8.2008 6:00pm
The Ace (mail):

ACE is one of the clown boys here

Translation:
You can't speak to the facts on any manner.
9.8.2008 6:20pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Some good news for Obama in today's Rasmussen state tracking polls:

CO Obama +3
FL Tied
OH McCain +7
PA Obama +2
VA McCain +2

While I'm surprised McCain is up that much in Ohio, if Obama gets Colorado, barring some big switch, Obama wins w/o FL or OH (Kerry states plus Iowa, NM and COL does it). McCain also can't like Florida being *tied* and only being up two in VA, at what should be the height of his bounce.
9.8.2008 7:37pm
FlimFlamSam:
TruthInAdvertising,

You wrote:

ACE is one of the clown boys here.

I read Ace's posts because he always has something intelligent to say. Can't say the same for you buddy.
9.8.2008 7:52pm
Lucius Cornelius:
I suspect that this may merely be a temporary bounce for McCain based on the afterglow from the Palin selection and the convention.

Does anyone remember the polling numbers from previous presidential elections for the relative position of the candidates after the conventions. I seem to recall that we often see the Democratic candidate well ahead after their convention with the Republican candidate almost pulling even after their convention....then it is a race to see whether the Republican can catch up and pull ahead. Of course, that would only be in years where the Dems have their convention first.
9.8.2008 9:34pm
Lucius Cornelius:
Clayton E. Cramer wrote:


Tax increases right now make absolutely no sense, except when pretending to screw the rich.

Remember that the reason that billionaires fund Democrats is that income tax increases don't hurt the rich. They hurt those who still have to work for a living, and are trying to become rich. Any person with more than $5 million in net assets only pays income taxes if they feel like it.


Cramer, you are absolutely right. If you have a large investment portfolio, you are no longer worried about income...merely cash flow. You can sell appreciated stocks and depreciated stocks so as to generate the cash you need for personal living expenses and end up with minimal income.

I am an attorney working for a state taxing authority that is in the process of shifting from a corporate income tax to a commercial activity tax that looks at gross receipts without any consideration of deductions. This simple approach appears to be generating more revenue than predicted. Perhaps we should adopt a broader version of this approach. But I will save my theories for an appropriate post.
9.8.2008 9:47pm
TruthInAdvertising:
"I read Ace's posts because he always has something intelligent to say. Can't say the same for you buddy."

ACE will beat every little detail to death until he's caught spreading a lie. Then he clams up. One example of ACE dealing in lies is when he falsely claimed that Palin oversaw the command of Alaska National Guard units on active duties when no governor has such oversight. ACE tried to justify this claim with this comment:


"Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It's on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units."


Too bad he left out the fact that Guard units on active duty are under federal control. Oops! F-ACE!

He refused to answer whether Bill Clinton had military experience by virtue of having been Governor of Arkansas after McCain made the same claim about Palin. F-ACE!

He refused to address John McCain's flat-out lie when McCain claimed that Palin sold the state jet on eBay and sold it for a profit. F-ACE!

FlimFlam, save it for someone who cares.
9.9.2008 12:07am
Hoosier:
TruthInAdvertising

"He refused to answer whether Bill Clinton had military experience by virtue of having been Governor of Arkansas"

Bill Clinton cited that in 1992 as experience in military affairs when seeking to make the case that he was ready to be CINC. So this one is off the table.
9.9.2008 12:41am