mm248: Political Potpourri

January 9, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

We are all of us under bombardment. If it’s not politics, it’s electronics (the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week).

What’s an overstressed blogger to do? How to choose?

It’s 2008 — politics wins. Actually, it’s been 2008 politically since November, 2006.

From the veritable cascade of information flowing out of the results of the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, as well as germane political news of a more general nature, we’ve put together another in a series we at Left-Handed Complement like to call:

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As this is our second effort in the past 16 hours or so, we will restrict ourselves to more cursory commentary. These are three stories that faithful reader should read for understanding.

There will be a test!

The New Hampshire results, especially Hillary Clinton’s surprise narrow victory over the sweetheart of Iowa, Barack Obama (a five-day honeymoon — that’s Britney Spears class!), most embarrassed the people who conducted the polls that had everyone, especially Obama’s team, believing in his invincibility.

nytimes

opinionatornytimes

They Were Misinformed

By Tobin Harshaw | January 9, 2008,  9:33 am

Well, it was a shocking defeat for this group, and today they’re going to have to take a long hard look at what went wrong. No, I don’t mean Team Obama — that crowd can move ahead — I mean the pollsters who were so certain that the Clinton campaign was D.O.A.

We’ll start, as usual, with Mark Blumenthal at Pollster.com, who dissects the final poll by CNN and the University of New Hampshire:

The discrepancy between the last UNH poll and the result seems concentrated in a few key subgroups. I will post the exact numbers tomorrow once the we get a final exit poll tabulations, but virtually all of the difference seems to come from women and college educated voters. For the moment, when comparing the UNH poll to the exit poll, I see a net 17 point gain for Clinton among women compared to a 5 point gain among men, and a 13 point net gain among college educated voters compared to a one point net loss among those with no college degree.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

They Were Misinformed – The Opinionator – Opinion – New York Times Blog

Back to the drawing board, pollsters. And, it’s game on for this political season, as the long-held (okay, five-day-long-held) sureties dissipated in Hillary’s “comeback.”

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It’s the season, and we’ve been increasingly concerned about vote fraud, most specifically when it involves voting machines (lately here and here).

This past weekend, the NYTimes magazine ran an extended feature on voting machines, and the crises in confidence they’ve caused in many states.

We all know the story of Florida in 2000 (which was a paper based system, in a state that politically gives Myanmar some competition), but disturbing stories are told all over the country.

nytimesmagazine

Can You Count on Voting Machines?

By CLIVE THOMPSON | Published: January 6, 2008

Jane Platten gestured, bleary-eyed, into the secure room filled with voting machines. It was 3 a.m. on Nov. 7, and she had been working for 22 hours straight. “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election,” she said. The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were causing trouble again….

As the primaries start in New Hampshire this week and roll on through the next few months, the erratic behavior of voting technology will once again find itself under a microscope. In the last three election cycles, touch-screen machines have become one of the most mysterious and divisive elements in modern electoral politics. Introduced after the 2000 hanging-chad debacle, the machines were originally intended to add clarity to election results. But in hundreds of instances, the result has been precisely the opposite: they fail unpredictably, and in extremely strange ways; voters report that their choices “flip” from one candidate to another before their eyes; machines crash or begin to count backward; votes simply vanish. (In the 80-person town of Waldenburg, Ark., touch-screen machines tallied zero votes for one mayoral candidate in 2006 — even though he’s pretty sure he voted for himself.) Most famously, in the November 2006 Congressional election in Sarasota, Fla., touch-screen machines recorded an 18,000-person “undervote” for a race decided by fewer than 400 votes.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Voting Machines – Elections – Ballots – Politics – New York Times

We have a lot to worry about, people!

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Couldn’t resist this one.

A fellow WordPress blogger (there are only a couple of million of us) had the following unique take on two men in the news (and present always, or lately, in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©).

Always, Michael Bloomberg:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC for U.S. President 2008

mm024: Bloomberg?
mm038.1: Jews Sorta Like Bloomberg Even Though…
mm051: Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg’s Money, Visibility…
mm054: Chicago Tribune news: An Idea for Bloomberg
mm058: What Kind of President would Michael Bloomberg?
mm064: How to take down plutocrat Michael Bloomberg…
mm066: Michael Bloomberg’s Knightly Ambitions
mm069: The Votes Are In for New York’s Mayor Mike
mm086: Bloomberg Takes School Plan… to Midwest
mm110: Grading Mayoral Control
mm117: The cure for the Electoral College is worse…
mm208: Overdue a Bloomberg post
mm238: Bloomberg’s candidacy — closer to real?

Lately, Barack Obama (see above, and here, for example).

Why not put them together? asks this distinguished political expert, blogger Jon Taplin.

jontaplinsblog

Obama-Bloomberg?

January 7, 2008 · 7 Comments

Obama- Bloomberg

With Drudge predicting Hillary’s exit and Barack Obama increasingly building excitement towards locking up the nomination on Feb. 5, I’m thinking about the role Mike Bloomberg could play as Obama’s running mate. The Republican battle could last all the way until a brokered convention in August. Romney has too much money to retire easily, McCain could take New Hampshire, Huckabee wins South Carolina, Rudy wins Florida and the Feb 5 races could be split with no clear winner. That leaves Barack with time to consolidate the Democratic Party, raise money for the general and choose a running mate while the Republicans remain in a squabble, spending their limited resources on the primary.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Obama-Bloomberg? « Jon Taplin’s Blog

What a concept! It’s got legs, brains, $$$.

Would billionaire Mayor Mike settle for being anyone’s second banana?

Don’t you just love political season (except of course that it has apparently become the first true perpetual motion machine)?

And that’s L-HC’s first ever (that we can recall) Political Potpourri. Does anyone doubt that there’ll be more?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm115: Barack Obama’s Republican edge

August 25, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Startling! Take a look:

salon

Barack Obama’s Republican edge

If he can win the Democratic primary, will his fans from the opposing party help take him all the way to the White House?

By Michael Scherer

Aug. 24, 2007 | It was sort of like finding a Christmas tree in a cornfield. In late July and early August, Iowa Republican voters were asked to name their choice for president in a University of Iowa poll. Mitt Romney, who leads most Iowa surveys, got 22 percent of the total. Rudy Giuliani came in second with 10 percent. But third place went to a Democrat, Barack Obama, who got nearly 7 percent — more than Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Sam Brownback combined.

Not to worry: The Obama campaign isn’t likely to join the Grand Old Party, and pollsters are convinced that Obama has exactly zero chance of winning the Republican caucus in Iowa. But something is going on. “I don’t want to make too much of it,” says David Redlawsk, the professor who commissioned the poll. “But I do think that the message Obama is putting out right now is the most likely to reach across party lines.”

There are other signs of Obama’s crossover appeal. Over the last several months, Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, has been holding focus groups for various media organizations like Fox News to find out what the public thinks of the presidential candidates. “I would ask Republicans, ‘Which Democratic candidate would you accept? Who would you consider to vote for?'” Luntz says. “Obama would get more than everybody else combined. Hillary [Clinton] and [John] Edwards have no crossover voters.”

A recent poll by the Washington Post and ABC News revealed a third data point in Obama’s favor: When asked in July which Democratic candidate has the best chance to defeat a Republican in a general election, Republicans and independents were more likely than Democrats to pick Obama over Clinton. In fact, among Democrats, only 22 percent said Obama was the best general election candidate, while 54 percent flagged Clinton as the best in the general election. But among Republicans, 33 percent said Obama was the best candidate, and 37 percent said Hillary. In other words, Republicans were about 11 points more likely than Democrats to see Obama as the best shot for a Democratic White House.

Any political expert will tell you that polls don’t mean much five months before the first caucus. But a pattern may be emerging. In part because of Clinton’s high negatives among Republicans, it appears Obama is gaining momentum as a fresh candidate with a less divisive approach, by constantly appealing beyond the partisan lines of the last decade. His first television ad buy in Iowa included testimony from a Republican state lawmaker from Illinois talking up Obama and his ability to reach across party lines. As Obama reiterated in an appearance in Iowa last week, “The country is hungry for change. It wants something new. We want to chart a new direction for our nation.”

I find this story confounding, confusing, counterintuitive, and any other “c” word that’s appropriate.

Go ahead and take a look at the rest:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Salon.com News | Barack Obama’s Republican edge

If I hadn’t seen this story in Salon, I might suspect it’s part of a Republican dirty tricks campaign.

It’s a paramount tactic among the Roves of the world to do all that’s necessary to see that the other party nominates the candidate easiest to defeat in the general election. This explains John Kerry.

Because I have to tell you, gals and guys, it is my firmly held belief that what people say to pollsters and what they do in the privacy of the voting booth can differ astonishingly. This explains Harry Truman’s win in 1948.

I think that it’s understood that people tend to tell pollsters an idealized version of their beliefs, or a varnished version, or an aspirational version, and then they go ahead and reelect the (mainly) guys who are, deep down, the most like themselves in all the important ways (i.e., white, male, Christian).

And, I’m ready at all times to be thrilled and impressed with the maturity and intelligence of the U.S. voting public, but I can’t help but be overwhelmed by my curMUDGEonly insistence that the electorate of 2008 will not elect a black man president, nor, to be sure, the particular woman in question.

I’m disappointed with that situation, but here’s the other problem. Whatever those Iowans say, the only chance the Republicans have of having any of their motley crew of candidates win in November 2008 is if the Democrats, whose victory in Congress seems to have led to only (bloody and bloody-minded) business as usual, nominate a candidate sure to galvanize the demoralized Republican troops into the polls in (modern) record numbers.

Call me cynical, but the prospect of staying home and letting a black man, or that woman swear the oath of office on 20-January-2009 might cause even the most dispirited Republican voters to get out and vote for Rudy or Old Man McCain.

And in my opinion, the Democratic center, for all of its brave conversation, has not yet evolved so much further than their Republican counterparts.

Whatever they all say to the pollsters, in the utter privacy of the voting booth, I just can’t see the average citizen doing the right thing.

Finally, none of the candidates have much of a record of executive accomplishment. The more months go by, Rudy’s supposed turnaround of NYC is going to tarnish. Obama and Clinton and many of the rest are lawyers, managers only of assistants and paralegals. A couple of governors might have executive experience, but of small states with tiny local challenges. And Fred Thompson, you’re no Ronald Reagan!

Michael Bloomberg, we’re ready for you!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

BTW, Patrick Smith of Salon has a new Ask the Pilot column this weekend. Patrick, I don’t want to incur any further fiscal obligations to you and Salon.com, so I won’t excerpt it or comment further here, except to recommend that my fearless reader get over and check it out. Terrific as always.

–MUDGE

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