Friday, October 31, 2008

Why McCain Should Have Trusted His Instincts

From is a very insightful piece about how McCain was convinced to turn to the right during the general election. He still may win, but it looks like this move will cost him every blue state and perhaps more. McCain should have trusted his instincts about how to run as not just another Republican in a cycle where the brand was badly damaged. Most of the base was going to come home to roost with him one way or another. If you were looking at the electoral map on that site prior to the Palin pick, you would have seem that McCain's support was weak in some red states, but he was still leading in nearly all of them. In several blue states he was also leading, tied, or at least very competitive! For this cycle, he really did have a very good chance if he had navigated his message and direction prudently. He still has a chance now, but if he manages to win, it will be by the slimmest of margins and with the most Democratic Congress in decades.

From the site: "A new NY Times/CBS poll shows that 59% of the voters feel that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be Vice President, let alone President. These people question McCain's ability to pick qualified people for his administration. The ironic thing is that the choice of Palin was probably forced on him by Steve Schmidt. McCain barely knew her (he met her once for 15 minutes), whereas he has traveled extensively with his long-time good friend Joe Lieberman. The choice of Lieberman would have enhanced McCain's maverick status, shown that he was willing to buck his own party ("Country first") and given the ticket an experienced politician who most people feel could be President (as demonstrated by polling in 2000). Schmidt undoubtedly told McCain that the base wouldn't accept him due to his pro-choice stance on abortion. The old McCain would have said: "Screw the base" to Schmidt, but McCain V2.0 did what he was told. If McCain loses, the conversation between McCain and Schmidt probably won't be real friendly."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Best... Kool-Aid... EVER!!!

I expound a bit more on the last couple weeks of right-wing screeching on my favorite blog where I am among the small but vocal resident opposition. This, combined with some cultural references, make up my newest video blog entry! Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

John Stewart Needs No Introduction

This is an object lesson on why Republicans shouldn't be given any power again until they get their heads back on straight. I laughed SO hard, despite the fright factor.

Oh, and don't forget Libby Dole's new ad against Kay Hagan in the NC Senate race. This is BRAND new. I didn't really care that much about this race before. Sure, I would have liked to see Kagan win anyway, but hell, now I REALLY want to see it! Nobody should be able to get away with this nonsense. Nobody.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why Right-Wing Character Attacks Are Now Irrelevant

I posted this as comments on another blog, but realized it was so wordy that I should probably post it here. It is basically an explanation of why I DO understand all of these attacks on Obama's associations and why I still think they are largely irrelevant. I do believe associations taken as a WHOLE can give some insight into character, yes. I also know that Republicans will try and find the handful of people, no matter how tangentially related to Obama's universe of people, that are tainted in some way. They're not going to find a list of the several hundred or so people that are closest to him and do a really balanced assessment of who has had the most impact on his life because they are not going to help them make the case they are trying to make. So, we know their task is to disqualify him on the basis of being a radical and to do that they need to cherry-pick his associations, no matter how misleading the technique used. If you believe what the right-wingers say, then Rezko, Ayers, and a few other people were his best buddies and closest confidants. Aside from Wright who probably knew Obama better than the others, this just doesn't hold water and it's clear that people are not buying it. They want people to look at 1% of the story and think it's 100%. It isn't working and it shouldn't work.

I believe the stuff that Reverend Wright said is of course way way off base. Unfortunately there is a segment of the population that believes in that AIDS conspiracy nonsense, or even that HIV isn't really what causes AIDS. It's ridiculous of course, but Wright used it to play to some portion of who he thought his target audience was. Some people enjoy being victims. On a side note, I actually believe that a great side effect of a President Obama could be that nobody will have an excuse to not achieve any more. No more excuses. What higher barrier is left than leader of the free world? I am very big on pulling yourself up out of defeatism and self-inflicted malaise. I want a tax code that is geared toward encouraging people to get to the middle class, but not punishing the rich. If 3% more on the top 5% of earners is considered socialist, well, we've had dozens of socialist presidents already then.

I also don't think Obama was a particularly frequent attender of Wright's church. Certainly he was a friend, and people can forgive a lot of faults in a friend. I have friends that I think are half-crazy, and if I ran for office, people might dredge them up, but I know they are good people underneath it all. This spotty church attendance may undercut his "Christian credentials" a bit, but of course most Dems, while around 3/4 of us or so are Christian, don't really care about that in a candidate. I wouldn't even care if he was Muslim or if he was atheist, or agnostic, but I believe he is Christian as he says. Do I honestly think Obama knew the stuff Wright was saying? I don't think he was there to hear the "God Damn America" thing or the AIDS rant. I *certainly* don't think Obama would ever say or even believe to any extent what Wright said about America or about AIDS. I'm not even sure that Wright believes it, but he might. Wright may well have been playing to what he thought the crowd wanted to hear. The bottom line is, if I thought that Obama had heard that speech and was OK with it, or believed these things himself, then I would have a serious problem with Obama. If I thought he had directed Acorn to commit registration fraud, or if I thought he agreed with Ayers' use of violence to achieve a political goal, then ALL of those things would cause me to reconsider. Short of that, and we are far short of that, I believe the country will be better off with Obama leading it, and I will be voting and volunteering in Virginia for his campaign on November 4th.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Completely Meaningless Quote Of The Day Is...

...this doozy from Leslie Sanchez, a Republican strategist on CNN.

"SANCHEZ: Look at the Reuters/C-Span/Zogby poll came out last night or basically early this morning, shows within five points, that John McCain is closing that gap with incomes of $35,000 and higher.If he can continue to maintain that, and even if you look at the fact you take out California and New York out of that, you look at the other 48 states, it is really probably closer to dead even. This is still a competitive race. And before people are writing the eulogies, I think you need to focus on the positives."

Emphasis mine obviously. I know it's just silly campaign-speak, but I just had to laugh at that. What in the world does that even mean??? Sure, if we toss out around 17% or so of the entire country's population whose electoral votes will certainly go for Obama, we just might win! While we're playing the "what-if" game, heck, can we just toss out Texas and Georgia? I guess if we gave Texas back to Mexico, immediately making W the President of Mexico, and then Georgia suddenly sunk into the ocean, then McCain might not even get 100 electoral votes! I think some of these commentators are going to be squirming for the next 9 days to try to make things interesting.

One Word: Brilliant

The guys from the Budweiser commercials from 8 years ago reprise their roles in a new ad. This is some weird combination of heartbreakingly on target with the satire, and brutally hilarious. Thanks Dave Bones for bringing this one to my attention.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Many Phases Of A Conservative Blog This Election

The tone on my "favorite" conservative blog that is lately a borderline asylum where I like to go to argue with right-wingers, has gone through several phases over the last several months. This is similar to a comment I posted there today, and thought it was interesting enough to be posted and expanded on a little here. The phases have been as follows:

1. In the primaries, Rightwingsparkle is all for McCain. Most other commenters are against McCain and want a more jowly, disagreeable arch-conservative type like Fred Thompson, or a slick fiscal conservative like Romney, or a religious rightie like Huckabee. Rightwingsparkle is *correct* that McCain was the only Republican with much of a chance this cycle, but many commenters don't want to hear it.

2. After McCain wins the primary, Rightwingsparkle tries to convince everyone to vote for him even though he wasn't far right enough for many people here. Some of her commenters make her look like a centrist, and that's very, very difficult.

3. Palin is picked, and everyone goes wild. McCain jumps in the polls at first and everyone loves her. Rightwingsparkle goes through the roof with McCain/Palin love and donates up to the max of $2,300 to his campaign that day. (Hopefully that paid for some of Palin's $150,000 "populist" wardrobe.)

4. Palin gets a little exposure. Whoops, put her back on the talking points quick! The dreaded mainstream media is blamed for her inability to put two coherent sentences together. How dare they ask what newspapers she reads!

5. Economic crisis hits, McCain parachutes into DC, says he won't debate, but then does anyway. Obama gains traction and wins debates according to debate viewers. Rightwingsparkle and her commenters blame the media, SNL, moderators, Democrats, Hollywood, and sunspots, but never McCain himself or his performance for any of this. What ever happened to the "party of personal responsibility"?

6. McCain campaign announces they're going negative on character issues in the middle of a financial crisis. Her blog follows suit the same day. All we hear about is Ayers, Acorn, and Wright for weeks. Everyone forgets what McCain's platform actually is. People eventually get tired of the attacks. This is reflected in the polls. Rightwingsparkle and her commenters blame the media. Again. Who else's fault could it be that people think the attacks are way over the top, right?

7. Today we have 11 days to go. Now it's all about generalized fear. Today Obama is supposedly a power-hungry egomaniac that will let everyone get nukes. Yesterday his supporters were tearing up the country, attacking McCain supporters and shooting up people's houses. (Well well, that was a hoax by a McCain supporter, as I had suspected!) Tomorrow she'll probably say that Obama will be collecting your guns. Once you call a guy a socialist and friend to terrorists, almost everything seems like fair game, doesn't it? The Republicans have finally and completely lost their compass. Help them go through their period of introspection that they so desperately need to find it again. Vote Obama.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Pro-America" And "Real Virginia"

Those wacky McCain surrogates are at it again. These are just from the last couple days. Yes, silly season continues in earnest!

Here's Nancy and her "Real Virginia" comment. I live about ten miles from where she lives. The McCain campaign had better tell me where I'm supposed to vote since if I don't live in real Virginia, I need to know where to go vote for Obama! She also has no clue where the northern VA population explosion has come from. It's mostly transplanted northerners like me, and first generation Americans that are here working in the tech sector (I am also in the tech sector), not DC residents moving outward. Nancy, for someone that lives here, you're utterly clueless.

Here's Palin and her "Pro-America" comment. I will at least give her credit for apologizing for this gaffe a day or two later.

This moron, Robin Hayes of North Carolina, in electoral trouble himself to keep his House seat, is in big trouble over this one. Liberals apparently hate people that work, achieve, and believe in God, according to him. He denied saying it at first, and then the audio came out. Whoops!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John McCain And Mike Nolan Both "Running Out Of Real Estate"

I think I've heard almost every possible football reference in this campaign. John McCain is throwing hail marys. It's fourth and long for McCain. Obama is at the goal line. McCain kicked a field goal. There is only one footballism that seems to apply now. Sometimes when a running back runs to the left or right, and they are trying to get around the defense to get going straight ahead, they "run out of real estate" when they get to the sidelines before they can turn the corner. This is McCain's problem right now. In past elections, when the Republican brand wasn't so toxic, they could go right at the Democrats, right up the middle, and have as good a chance of making the yards that they need as not making them. This time, McCain is being forced to do an end around. All Democrats have to do is keep containment so he has to stick as close to the regular Republican message as possible, or just string him along toward the sidelines and out of bounds after he goes negative. Either way, he looks more and more like Bush and the conservative movement that has brought us the last eight years, and without an October surprise, it's going to be nearly impossible for him. It's too bad for McCain that his campaign has been so horrible, because I used to think McCain had some honor before the right wing of his own party boxed him into a nearly unwinnable position.

The election is now 14 days away. All of the debates are over. Obama and Biden are four for four on winning the debates according to all polls, and they are up about four to eight points in the polls, depending on which poll you like. Obama is winning comfortably in all of the states Kerry won, plus Iowa and New Mexico which Gore won, and Virginia and Colorado that Bush won both times. If those other states don't change, McCain can't lose either VA or CO, or he loses. Oh, did I mention that Obama is also ahead in Bush states FL, OH, NV, and MO, and probably tied now in IN, and McCain can't afford to lose a single one of those either? It's not over. 14 days is a long time in politics, but I am no longer going to use the word "eternity". Better dig deeper in your barrel of slime, Johnny.

Oh, and in completely unrelated news, the coach of my favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, just fired their head coach, Mike Nolan. I guess it was to be expected. When you go 18-37, not even winning a third of your games, it's hard to justify. He was hampered by poor talent for some of that time, but right now aside from the major exception of the quarterback and possibly wide receiver positions, I don't think they have any huge problems with talent. I guess we'll see what happens.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

In the greater context of the election, I don't think this is going to make a big difference, but on the margins it has the effect of being a positive news story for Obama. Now, it isn't any secret that Colin Powell was always uncomfortable with the social conservatives that are increasingly THE base of power in the Republican party. Powell was a Republican mostly on the basis of economic and foreign policy issues, and on the latter, the W administration burned him badly, costing him a great deal of his personal reputation. If you listen to the reasons for his backing Obama, they had as much to do with the direction the Republicans and now John McCain himself are veering off to as they did about Obama's traits, although he had plenty to say about both. Powell isn't switching parties, he is just calling the recent insanity from the far right what it is, and switching to someone that has it more together right now. You don't even need to consider race to find many, many other more plausible reasons for his decision.

It is sadly predictable how right-wing bloggers are spinning this as being a race thing, like Powell isn't strong enough to make up his own mind and it's somehow about brotherhood and nothing to do with issues. That is an extremely insulting thing to say about someone as accomplished as Powell. They did the same with Christopher Buckley, trying to find other external reasons for supporting Obama. They would never admit that maybe they know everything about the candidates and their positions, and feel that Obama would make a better President. The other narrative that some Republicans are pushing is that this is somehow not counting for much because Democrats revile him for his role in the run-up to the Iraq War. I can't speak for everyone, but I was never one of those Democrats. I always respected him and thought that he was the voice of reason in the W Administration.

Separated At Birth?

Edited later to add: I KNOW this is totally silly and has nothing to do with issues or whatever, but when I first saw this picture, just before laughing really REALLY hard, I thought of Mister Burns from the Simpsons! It's OK Dave Bones, I haven't gone crazy yet. It's all in good fun. I should have framed it more good-naturedly to begin with. I'm smiling, really I am. You just can't see it from across the pond! (Do Brits call it "the pond" too?) Yes, they really are going ballistic at Sparkle's. I really think there are no lines any more. Whether they admit it or not, McCain's campaign has crossed lines of mud-slinging that have not been crossed before in presidential politics. Anyway, I am pulling back a bit from there. They are scared and there is too much free-floating anger. I'm already anxious enough about this election. I'm just waiting for something insane to happen to somehow save them as it is. I don't need more stress.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

If Ann Coulter And Sarah Palin Could Have A Kid Together...

...the result would be Michelle Bachmann. She has a little bit of the same type of look and the right-wing credentials certainly, and even has a bit of the Palin accent. I hadn't heard of Bachmann until a few months ago. She is a House member from Minnesota, and has been making the rounds as a surrogate for McCain for at least a few months. She is apparently also in some electoral doubt in her own race to keep her job, but it seems her district is Republican enough that she will hold on. This video may change things though.

The attacks from the McCain campaign and his surrogates are getting more brazen, more insane, and more furious. Fortunately, it's not working. I could hardly believe it when I heard about Bachmann's appearance on Hardball. She openly and publicly suspects Obama of being un-American. Well, isn't that nice. We're not talking about supposition here. She actually comes right out and says it! It's fascinating how the line has moved in terms of what is politically acceptable from the anti-Obama crowd. First it was openly accusing a US Senator of "palling around with terrorists", then it was openly accusing Obama of being a socialist, and now a US congresswoman openly suspects Obama of being "anti-American". What was that sound? Did you hear that? It was faint, delicate, and barely audible. You know what it was? It was McCain's last shred of dignity fluttering away, along with the last bit of respect that he has lost with me in the past few months. Seventeen more days and this ugliness should all be over with an Obama victory if there is any justice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My First(ish) Video Blog

I've done videos before, even video blogs, sort of, but this is the first one that I've actually embedded right into my blog. In this one, I talk a bit about my experiences arguing with right-wingers recently. I get a couple digs in on Spark and Jill, but it's all in good fun!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe The Plumber And Bob Schieffer Win The Debate!

I thought the debate last night was the best one so far. Bob Schieffer did a fine job as moderator, and actually kept the candidates somewhat focused on the questions that were asked. Joe the Plumber had a big debate. There are lots of interesting tidbits that are now known about him. He voted McCain in the Ohio primaries. I am not shocked. You know what's even more interesting? It appears that even Joe the Plumber himself knows that Obama would not raise his taxes in his situation! Not that it will stop McCain from trying to use him as a bogus example. Here are the choice parts from that article.

In an interview afterward with WTOL, Wurzelbacher acknowledged that he'd still like to eventually buy the plumbing company he works for but that he wouldn't yet be hit by higher taxes.

"I want to set the record straight: Currently I would not fall into Barack Obama's $250,000-plus," he said. "But if I'm lucky in business and taxes don't go up then maybe I can grow the business and be in that tax bracket - well, let me rephrase it. Hopefully, that tax won't be there."

Hm, that wasn't the tune you were singing while you were on camera, Joe. So, maybe if you're really, really successful, and if you make more than $250,000 a year, you might have to pay 3% more on that amount over the 250K. Oh, what most people would do to have such problems, Joe! Go ahead and vote for McCain on silly hypotheticals if you want, but clearly you are smart enough to understand that Obama's plan won't hurt you at all, and will probably help you.

Here is the brand new Obama commercial. All of the funny faces that McCain made last night in the debate are on full display! They mean nothing in terms of their plans for the country of course, but personally, I think they cost McCain the perception of victory in the debate, because he had his best debate so far on the issues.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Taxes and "Wealth Redistribution"

The whole thing with "wealth redistribution" or "fair taxes" is that no matter what, everyone knows that taxes need to be paid to keep the system we enjoy running smoothly. The question then becomes how much is "fair". Most people think fair should be for them to pay less. If everyone paid what they thought was fair, we would have horrible roads, the elderly would be out in the snow, and our military would be pathetic. Some favor a flat sales tax to replace the income tax as a panacea, but there are significant problems with this as well, not the least of which is that this is also a regressive tax structure. Nearly all first world countries have a "progressive" tax structure by which the more you make, the higher the rate of the tax. The idea behind this is that it takes a certain amount to live, a certain amount to live comfortably, and another amount to live REALLY comfortably. Economists assign value to these dollars in the form of what is called "marginal utility". The concept is that one hundred dollars is much more important to someone making 20K a year than to someone making 200K a year. Therefore, even though the percentage is higher in terms of the income tax, the goal for many is to have roughly the same contribution when adjusted for the marginal utility of that money. You don't want to "punish" success, but you also need to make sure that you are giving the most opportunity to stay in the middle class and not slip under the poverty line for anyone that is employed.

Yes, there are some people that are not elderly or disabled that are on welfare. About 1% of the total federal budget is spent on this, which is a large amount in sheer dollars, but compared to many other line items, it's tiny, and the percentage has been trending lower since welfare reform 14 years ago. There is also Social Security, Medicaid, and other programs that exist to help various people that are elderly or sick. Many of these programs work in a way that the people that get the benefits paid into them during their working years. However, these programs are getting stretched due to longer life expectancies. Eventually I think the retirement age will have to be moved up. It won't be popular, but demographics will demand it.

Now, back to "wealth redistribution". This has become in the last couple decades a Republican code phrase for "the wealthy should pay lower taxes". Then once they are proposed to be cut for the wealthy, it is argued who then should pay more to make up for the shortfall, since even if the economy is stimulated by the cuts, which may or may not happen, it is unlikely to make up for the whole difference, especially in today's conditions. Conservatives will often say that the budget should be cut. There is always "waste" somewhere that can be targeted, but when you are in as big a hole as we are now, there isn't enough waste that exists to make up that kind of deficit. We generally don't want to cut the military of course, since that's vital, and not infrastructure, which we need for commerce to run smoothly, but then most of what you are left with are programs for the young, the elderly, or the sick, and remember only about one percent is really "welfare" as you and I would think of it (able to work but out of work, and/or looking for work). So, one way or another, "wealth redistribution" is a request to re-balance taxes and spending so that those that are already well off will take home more, and those that are retired, sick, or less well off will pay more and/or receive fewer services. This policy then hopes and assumes the rich will use this money to expand businesses instead of taking an extra trip to the Carribbean or buy a yacht. This is what people call "trickle down economics".

So, who should pay what in your opinion, why is it fair, and if you would pay less, who should pay more or receive less government help?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Polls Are Only Accurate When You Agree With Them

This sounds silly, right? Yes, of course it is, yet this is a frequently held belief, especially in conservative Republican circles. Now, I understand that with conservatives that there is an undercurrent of mistrust of science. These are often the same people that support teaching "intelligent design" in schools (ruled to be warmed-over creationism by a Bush-appointed judge). These are often the same people that also believe that homosexuality can be "cured". Any time I point out that Obama is currently ahead in the polls, they say, "Yes, Kerry was ahead too, but he lost." No, for the tenth time, he was not ahead. Some exit polls had him ahead the day of the election, but those were instant exit polls that were poorly sampled, and they were wrong. The regular polls taken before the election showed Bush with a slight lead. Below are two polls, both from One is Kerry on this day in 2004, and the other is Obama today. The two are not even close. Anyone can cherry-pick a poll that shows the result that they like, but when you take a poll of polls, the end result of polling is that it is very accurate. Dark blue is 10% or more margin for the Democrat, lighter blue is 5% or more for the Dem, white with a blue border is less than 5% for the Dem, and all white is a tie. The red states work the same for Republicans.

Kerry on 10/13/04 - 228 electoral votes, 291 for Bush, 19 tied:

Obama on 10/13/08 - 346 electoral votes, 181 for McCain, 11 tied:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Some McCain Supporters "Going Nuclear"?

Over the past week, the McCain campaign has been really ratcheting up the rhetoric on the campaign trail and on their TV ads. It's non-stop negative campaigning now, and even one of their own campaign strategists said that they need to change the focus off of the economy. So, their answer was to try and tar Obama's character with suspicious "associations" with people. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances that I enjoy interacting with. Some of them have what seem to me to be some pretty crazy ideas. This doesn't mean that I am going to end an association with them over the issue. Maybe I won't be best buddies with them, but by all accounts Obama was never on that level with Bill Ayers, and there is absolutely zero indication that Obama ever espoused the kind of violence that Ayers espoused. The reason that this is dishonest is that they know Obama does not think this way, but since they are backed into a corner and lagging behind in the polls, they need to change the subject. Thankfully, the cynical tactics are not working. McCain is falling further behind by most accounts, with only 24 days left to go.

This rhetoric, Palin accusing Obama of palling around with terrorists, the constant negative ads, hard-right conspiracy theorists openly discussing Obama being anti-American, or a Communist, or a socialist, or a terrorist, is not helping them in the campaign, but it is getting some of their own supporters very alarmed and riled up. Normally energy at rallies is a good thing for a campaign, but in the last few days we have heard different supporters at his rallies call Obama a socialist, a terrorist, and an Arab, as well as "kill him", and "off with his head"! It has gotten so bad that the anger is *becoming* the story, and now McCain is trying to tamp down the rhetoric a little.

In this first clip, he is even booed *twice* by his own crowd when he tells them to be respectful. Independents are watching this, shaking their heads, and heading to the Obama camp in this election. These are just some of the highlights from the last few days of anger. This one has the nutty old lady that says he's an Arab.

Watch the look on McCain's face 15 seconds into it when someone yells, "Terrorist!", after asked the crowd, "Who is the REAL Barack Obama?" I feel bad for him, but he has to understand that this is the genie that he and Palin helped let out of the bottle when they decided to pound into Obama with the ugly character attacks. Now he has some of the die-hards believing that Obama will destroy the country in a much more literal way than they had intended to convey.

Here is the "Obama is a socialist" guy. He is practically spitting venom at his own candidate!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pictures Of Crestfallen Stock Traders

Doesn't anyone else find these funny at all? I mean, yes, this is a very serious financial crisis, and it may well have a terrible effect on you, me, and millions of others. I completely understand that, and I realize that the results are not going to be funny for many people. Maybe it's wrong, but hey, I can't help what amuses me! Aren't all of the pictures of traders gnashing their teeth or holding their heads in their hands kind of funny on some level? It is sort of like the ubiquitous videos of overweight people that they show from only the neck down when there is a story about obesity on the news, except with this issue, they can show the faces! I think we've inadvertently created a new art form: "Crisis Photography"! Here is a sampling.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The "Get Off My Lawn" Moment!

Wow, those t-shirt makers are QUICK with the comebacks, aren't they? Less than 24 hours after McCain peevishly referred to Obama as "that one", in a debate, we have this t-shirt. Do they make one for guys, and preferably not in pink? The clip from the debate is below. McCain is NOT very good at hiding his obvious disdain for his opponents. He was like that with Romney in the primary and Obama now. McCain, Vietnam is over. You probably could kill them with your bare hands once, but you're going to have to actually out-think your opponents now!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tackling The Old Republican "Perot The Spoiler" Story

In 1992. Bill Clinton had just won his first term, defeating the incumbent, George H.W. Bush. Eight years later, After George W. Bush beat Gore in Florida by just a few hundred votes which gave him the presidency after some Supreme Court assistance, Ralph Nader was widely seen as the cause of Gore's defeat. It didn't take a degree in math or statistics to figure out that if even a fraction of Nader's voters voted for someone other than Nader and voted even slightly more for Gore, then Gore would have won. The point of this post is not to re-hash all of that though. It is to challenge the now common assumption among Republicans that the same thing happened to H.W. Bush in 1992 because of Ross Perot being in the race.

This picture is a lot more complex, because Clinton won by a much greater margin in the electoral college than Bush, but Perot also had a lot more support than Nader. First let's start with the states where Clinton won, but his margin was smaller than Perot's support. These states are: CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IL, IA, KY, LA, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, OH, OR, PA, RI, TN, VT, WA, WV, and WI. These are all of the states Clinton won except AR, DC, MD, and NY. Sounds like this could be a big difference-maker when you look at those lists, right? Maybe, maybe not. Consider also that the only state where the Perot votes were smaller than the margin for Bush was in MS. Let's see how close those margins were and what the Perot voters would have had to do to tip the states and the electoral college to Bush.

I created a spreadsheet that could take into account both the percentage of Perot voters that would vote at all, and the percentage that would vote for either candidate out of that pool. It turns out that if every single Perot candidate voted, and voted for Bush or Clinton instead of a third party candidate, Bush would have needed over 66% of those votes. When switching the percentage from 66% to 67%, Iowa flips to Bush, giving him a 274-264 electoral vote victory. Perot voters were clearly a pretty broad coalition, as evidenced by his fairly even support across the country. Other analyses show that Perot was drawing as many or more votes from Clinton than from Bush, and I have yet to see a poll that says otherwise, much less a two to one advantage for Bush among his voters.

Consider also that Perot's voters, as with all third party voters, have a fair probability of voting third party or not voting at all in the absence of their candidate. Personally, I think 80% is a generous figure to determine how many would have voted for Bush or Clinton, and that participation percentage would have required Bush to get more than a whopping 71% of those remaining Perot votes. So, it is very clear that the Perot Factor in 1992 was not nearly the determining factor that the Nader Factor was in 2000. I don't even know why Republicans would even wish for this to be true other than making it seem like it's "even" because they had bad luck too. For anyone that would like to check my work, I would be happy to send you the spreadsheet. Just email me at egrow and then at the domain (to confuse the spammer bots).