Category Archives: Election history

Not to bring up polls again, but…

Yes, I know I blogged earlier that I didn’t want to blog on polls, because they’re unreliable this year due to the complete absence of solid and consistent standards, demographic balances, or turnout models from one poll to the other. However, I’m going to blog on polls once again before the election is over, and I’ll be staying true to my word because it’s another blog post on polling unreliability.

OK, I also know it sounds like I’m trashing a field of professional study of which I was a part for some time, but I’m really not; I still believe in the basic soundness of political polling. I simply think this year’s election dynamics are unique in their unpollability. However, there is an area of political polling in which I have never had any faith, at least not since I knew what they were. The area is that of the damnable exit poll.

More wonkery, notes of caution for Obamacolytes, and reasons for optimism for McCainiacs, below the break.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Senator Palin? Doubtful. But what if…

Covert Zero brings up “an interesting point” (before throwing me a link…thanks!) from former defense analyst Chuck Spinney (H/T James Fallows):

“How much do you want to bet the Sarah Palin won’t replace Ted Stevens after being induced to run in a special election by “popular demand”?

Could happen, but that’s not a bet I’d take.

Explanation, and lots more wonkery with an even wilder scenario, below the break.

Continue reading

Welcome to the bighouse, Ted. Now what?

The Congressional Indicted Caucus officially has one fewer member. Senator Ted Stevens has been convicted on all counts. To quote a certain played-out, over-the-hill cartoonist: “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” (More here, here, here, and here.) For his part, Stevens has announced he will appeal, maintaining his innocence and lacerating the prosecutors for what I admit was some pretty messed-up lawyering.

I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see Sen. Stevens go, which will come as no surprise to WitSnapper readers (who may have read my thoughts on the man here, here, here, here, and elsewhere). His Senate seat will likely go to his Democratic opponent, Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, now effectively running unopposed. Republicans now are scrambling to assess their very limited options.

Bunches of scenario-weaving below the break.

Continue reading

Could the polls be wrong? It’s happened, but…

A bunch of people, both live and over email, have asked me why I don’t blog more on poll results, especially given that I worked in the business for a number of years.

Admittedly, I’m blogging a lot less on poll-related topics than I did, say, a month or more ago, which is a bit counterintuitive in light of the avalanche of poll results that comes in the last couple of months before an approaching presidential Election Day.  Since mid-September, pollblogging on WitSnapper has been especially rare, and even then I’ve typically done so only to comment on the misuse or shoddy execution of polls.

There’s a pretty simple reason: taken as a whole, the polls for this race have been entirely unreliable, and my estimation is that it’s because of pollster panic.

In addition, if McCain were to overtake Obama in the last couple of weeks in defiance of the polls, it wouldn’t be the first (or even second) time in modern election history.

Details and further links below the break.

Continue reading

Biden Gaffe Watch: Experience, anyone?

Senator Joe Biden made the strongest case Monday against an inexperienced president since he slammed Barack Obama as overly green during a Democratic primary debate (links via Captain Ed and Miz Michelle).  Oddly enough, this time he meant to argue in favor of Obama’s election, or at least I think that’s what he meant:

“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. “And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

Biden doesn’t mention that the “test” to which John Kennedy’s “mettle” was put when he attended a summit with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna was one that Kennedy failed miserably, by both his own and Khrushchev’s accounts.  The Soviet delegation left Vienna with a poor estimation of Kennedy’s talent and character, and a soaring estimation of their capacity to push him around on the world stage.  Khrushchev was sufficiently emboldened that he ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall, turning East Berlin into a prison in fact as well as in effect, and went prancing around Cuba planting nuclear missiles hither and yon, bringing us closer to an honest-to-God nuclear exchange than at any time in history.  The former offense stayed in place for more than a quarter of a century (many were shot trying to escape to the West), and de-escalation of the latter was brought about only when Kennedy agreed to hand over strategic intelligence to the Soviets and withdraw valuable missile assets from Turkey, weakening the front line of NATO’s deterrent.

Kennedy came into office after six years in the House and eight years in the Senate.  How prepared can Obama be after an unremarkable four years in the Senate, two of which have been all but pre-empted by his presidential campaign?

I dunno.  Ask Joe Biden.

(In the meantime, Gateway Pundit is floating along on marshmallow “Dear Leader” dreams.)

UPDATE:  GP also has video of Rudy Giuliani demanding an explanation.

Playing with fire at the town hall debate?

Miz Michelle raises the specter of the embarrassing YouTube-sponsored debate during the Democratic primary, after which evidence emerged that the Clinton, Obama, and Edwards campaigns had all made use of planted supporters in the question-submitting audience, under the false guise of “undecided” voters.

John Dickerson at Slate is also wary, anticipating a tendency for audience members to grandstand.  He writes an article entitled “Beware of Ponytail Guy,” in a reference to the pony-tailed opening questioner at the town hall debate between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992.  The questioner, a “domestic mediator” name Denton Walthall, scolded the two candidates ahead of time against going negative during the debate, imploring them to treat the audience as they would their own children (he actually used the sentence, “Could we cross our hearts?”).  I remember watching that debate 16 years ago, and my gorge still rises at the memory of this man simpering for the cameras as if he were addressing 5-year-olds.

I think that’s a risk you take in a loose format like this one.  When the audience controls the questioning, the chances of a sideshow, or (as in the YouTube debate) a hijacking by a campaign mole, go through the roof.  If the news is to be believed, it appears the Democrats have a longer track record of plants in town hall debates, but John McCain has been pushing for this format for months now (he is said to thrive in a freewheeling environment), and Obama has been ducking him every step of the way since early summer.  Now that the Democrats have coalesced further behind Obama since McCain first proposed his series of town hall debates (i.e. there’s less chance now of Obama getting unfriendly questions from primary-opponent plants), we’ll see if McCain doesn’t look back thinking maybe he should have watched what he wished for.

However, Dickerson at Slate points out that there’s a factor at play this year that wasn’t present when Denton Walthall reared his pony-tailed head at the town hall in 1992 — the blogosphere:

On Tuesday night, if Son of Ponytail Guy asks a question, he can rest assured that he will receive a thorough going-over in the blogosphere. So I suggest all prospective questioners Google themselves, make sure they’re on good terms with their co-workers, and wipe clean their Facebook page.

May the best troll win!

Somebody hasn’t stopped running for prez…

Have Joe Biden and Barack Obama actually bothered talking to each other in the last couple of days?

In the space of 24 short hours, we’ve seen:

Caroline Kennedy’s BlackBerry must be smoking with hate email from the Obama campaign these days.  “Thanks a million for the yeoman vetting process, lady.”

It’s hardly unusual for running mates to disagree.  Eight years ago Joe Lieberman was forced to “evolve” his positions on a number of issues (affirmative action, the content of Hollywood output, etc.) in order to make sure he didn’t make things too difficult for Al Gore.  Much was made in 1980 of the differences between Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush on supply-side economics (“voodoo economics,” according to Bush during the primaries).

John McCain and Sarah Palin are famously on opposite sides of the fence regarding drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an issue near and dear to the Alaska governor’s heart for years.  However, the difference between Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin is that with the latter, you get the clear impression that they have at least discussed the matter between them, even if they haven’t come to a meeting of minds yet.

Points of disagreement between Obama and Biden, on the other hand, always seem to come as a surprise to them both when asked about them by reporters or voters, and you’re invariably filled with dread at what the next conversation between the two of them is probably going to be like.