Tag Archives: Political analysis

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.

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Will you be rich come Inauguration Day?

No, I’m not talking about Gwen Ifill’s book-selling prospects in the event that Barack Obama wins.

I’m talking about the sinking bar for the Democrats’ definition of “rich” as it pertains to the threshold income level at which Obama’s tax plan would really pack a wallop. Where do you step out from beneath the protective umbrella of the hallowed, untouchable middle class and graduate to state cash-cow status? Are you safe from the Obama harvesting machine if you make less than:

  1. $1,000,000
  2. $250,000
  3. $200,000
  4. $150,000
  5. $120,000
  6. $70,000
  7. $41.500
  8. All of the above

Well, if Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, any number of various Obama campaign bigs, and Obama himself are to be believed, the answer can only be “All of the above.”

During the Democratic primaries, where class envy was an easier sell and solid economic plans were not yet necessary, Obama contented himself with railing against “millionaires,” which had more of a personal touch than “corporations” and allowed for comparisons of personal income. Same bugaboo, different tax form.

After Obama’s nomination, he released his tax plan to the public, declaring (as he did in July at a gathering in Georgia), “If you make $250,000 a year or less, we will not raise your taxes. We will cut your taxes!” This figure came up repeatedly during the debates. And there was much rejoicing among the acolytes.

Last weekend, the Obama campaign released a TV ad in which their candidate assured us, “If you have a job, pay taxes, and make less than $200,000 a year, you will get a tax cut.” The candidate said this would apply to “95% of working Americans,” a figure I and others (including the AP and CBS News) have said numerous times is a mathematical impossibility.

Then came Tuesday, when Obama’s running-mate, Sen. Joe Biden, lowered the bar further to $150,000. It was at about this point that the serial bar-lowering turned into a great ad opportunity for the McCain campaign.

There’s more lurking in the background, however, that the campaign had to leave out for time’s sake…it looks like he’s been shining us on all along. In an interview in 2003, toward the beginning of his Senate campaign, Obama pegs the middle-class upper income limit at $70,000. How thoughtful…looks like he’s just slipping lower and lower numbers by us so that he might ease us into our newfound “richness.”

At least that would go some way toward explaining his recent loyal support and vote for the Democrat-crafted budget bill for FY 2009, which slapped a tax hike on individuals making as little as $41,500. I can just see all those middle-class folks basking in their newfound patriotism as they join the ranks of the nouveau riche.

Oh, hell, I feel richer already.

UPDATE: The McCain campaign’s “Slippery Slope” ad (referenced in the $150,000 paragraph above) has been updated to include the Richardson clip. Unfortunately, it’s way too long for a 30-second spot, and looks to be restricted to Web-ad status.

America’s newest “ex-Marine” panics

Rep. John Murtha is drowning.

Camp Murtha has hurried out a mass mailing to the Congressman’s donor list begging for an additional $1 million so that he may cling to his seat for two more years. Such a cash infusion would supplement the eleventh-hour ad buys the DCCC have suddenly dumped on his district in an effort to save some of the votes their candidate is hemorrhaging. If his “racist, redneck” statemates decide they haven’t blown all their spare cash on Cheetos, Mountain Dew, and tractor pull tickets, perhaps they will come to the rescue of this pitiable, vestigial relic. Or perhaps not.

(Speaking of Murtha’s “racist” and “redneck” comments, check the latest mailing from his opponent Bill Russell, who is obviously having a ball with this. Bringin’ Jeff Foxworthy up north!)

A new Dane & Associates poll (H/T Miz Michelle) shows the race a statistical dead heat, with Murtha hanging onto a 1.8-point lead (45.5% to 43.7). With this many voters still undecided about a thirty-plus year incumbent, Murtha’s got plenty to worry about.

Republicans, on the other hand, finally have something to look forward to.

Kiss Alaska goodbye. Thank Ted Stevens.

Newly convicted Sen. Ted Stevens is digging in his heels, and this blogger sees no sign of any intent to resign, before or after the election. The man honestly thinks he won’t spend day one in jail; I don’t think he’s capable of envisioning a Senate without him.

National Republicans are abandoning him, the state party is clinging to him, his fellow senators (of both parties) are talking openly about expelling him, and local political experts are still saying he might eke out one final re-election victory.

News developments, analysis, and more wonkery below the break.

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Are Murtha’s days numbered? Polls say maybe.

Rep. John Murtha, whose claims to fame include Abscam conspiracy, slandering Marines, smearing half his own state as racist, and serving up enough pork in Congress to supply Oktoberfest, may be watching his custom-gerrymandered seat slip away.

One poll recently released has Murtha’s Republican opponent, Bill Russell, pulling within the margin of error in the upcoming election, while another poll leaked to Miz Michelle by her Pennsylvania source shows Russell with a comfortable lead.

No need to remind me that I just tossed up the world’s longest freakin’ post on how I think the polls this year are about as useful for toilet paper as they are for predicting elections. However, given that Murtha is a guy who has held this seat since 1974, who typically considers a 2-to-1 victory margin on Election Night a squeaker, who lives in a district with a 63% Democratic registration roll, and who is running in a “we all hate Republicans worse than liver worse than root canals” year, it is absolutely unheard of that Russell, a Republican Iraq hawk who won a spot on the ballot with a write-in campaign, could be giving Murtha the race of his life.

I don’t think it’s petty of me to note how anxiously I am looking forward to seeing Murtha assuming long overdue civilian status, bringing with him little but his shredded dignity, his Abscam souvenirs, his various coffee mugs from his favorite defense contractors, and his pending slander suits.

UPDATE: Commenter MommaMT (see below) is kind enough to alert me that the “worse than liver” expression is not quite apt in significant parts of Pennsylvania. I hope my substitution is satisfactory.

Killing the messenger: Out for Joe’s blood

Predictably enough, the Associated Press and similar outlets have declared war on Joe Wurzelbacher, AKA “Joe the Plumber,” AKA the guy who dared ask Barack Obama an uncomfortable question when people were watching.

Questions have been brought to light about Wurzelbacher’s status as a plumber, his tax returns, his income, his voting history, and the size of the business he wants to buy.  The New York Times had a whole medley of sinister tales from the underbelly of the Wurzelbacher household in yesterday’s edition.  Joe himself has come under more scrutiny in the last two or three days than the press has bothered to exercise on Sen. Obama for two years.  All the result of a question Joe had the temerity to ask Obama before the senator could set up his TelePrompTer and focus-group the potential answers.

The Associated Press and its cohorts have missed the story yet again; they can villainize “Joe the Plumber” to their hearts’ content, but Obama’s response to him in Ohio still has a life of its own.

Looking back, Obama’s off-the-cuff answer to Joe’s worry that his taxes would rise under Obama’s tax plan is one he would doubtless like to “revise and extend.”  The senator slipped smoothly into professor mode and lectured the t-shirt-wearing “average guy” archetype in front of him on the virtues of “spreading the wealth around” through hideously lopsided taxation.  If Obama didn’t know it then, he surely has learned now that a blue-collar worker trying to pull his way up the economic ladder by the sweat of his own brow is probably not the ideal audience for a high-flying ode to the virtues of redistributionism.

The aftermath of Obama’s gaffe was the last thing he needed in the last 24 hours before the final debate.  Joemania — and I don’t mean Obama’s running mate — was front and center at Hofstra University as each candidate fought to yank away the mantle of “Champion of Joe the Plumber” (the man does have a last name, guys, by the way).  John McCain seemed to wear that mantle much more comfortably, as Obama spent most of his Joe-wooing time trying to persuade the audience that he didn’t really tell Joe what the videocamera says he told him in Ohio.  The post-debate consensus that McCain came across as Joe’s better bet of the two was confirmed in the new effort to discredit Joe Wurzelbacher as…well, it’s hard to tell, but the point appears to be that Joe’s question doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t have been asked, or something.

Lost in all of this new personal infodumping about Evil Joe Barackbane is the substance of his original conversation with Obama.  Here’s the thing:  what hurt Obama about that conversation isn’t who Joe is; it’s what Obama told him. His “spreading the wealth around” comment provided a rare insight into Obama’s feelings about the role of government in directing the economy and the relationship of the government to private citizens who work for a living.  Overtaxing businesses and individuals for the purpose of passing on the proceeds to the less fortunate, executed on a governmental scale, is a recipe for economic disaster.  It’s been demonstrated in the past, and it’s part of long-established American conventional wisdom.

The ominous “spreading the wealth” rhetoric was the weapon McCain brought to the debate against Obama, not “Joe the Plumber,” which was no more than a pleasing marketing package.  Tearing down Joe Wurzelbacher doesn’t change a thing about that unscripted glimpse into Obama’s fascination with redistributionist economic doctrine.  In fact, the tarnishing of the “Joe the Plumber” brand will force McCain to rely more on the phrase “spreading the wealth around,” which goes more to the heart of why the home video of that exchange in Ohio went viral so quickly and led to so many second looks at Barack Obama.

It’s not about who likes “Joe the Plumber.”  It’s about who supports the government’s “spreading the wealth around.”

UPDATE: Captain Ed has more insight on the perils of questioning The Anointed.  Miz Michelle christens “Operation Destroy Joe the Plumber” (I’m a little disappointed…she couldn’t have come up with something better?  Operation Rip Out the Pipes?  Operation Plumbing New Depths?  Operation Kitchen Sink?  You’ve got gold here, Michelle, c’mon…)

UPDATE II: Oh, good gawd.  Daily Kos and other leftward blogs (none of whom I’ll dignify with a link) are soiling themselves over unconfirmed reports that some relative of Joe Wurzelbacher’s is Charles Keating’s son-in-law and a GOP donor.  (Joe’s reported response: “I don’t know anything about that.”)  So what would this mean?  That Obama worked his way along a rope line and picked himself a McCain plant for a question?

Shaking the “battered Taliban syndrome”

Now this can only be a step in the right direction.

CNN is reporting (via Captain Ed) that the Taliban is pursuing negotiations with the new Karzai government in Afghanistan, with a mind toward forging a peace deal.  According to CNN, the Sunni Islamist movement has had quite enough of al Qaeda’s all-encompassing war against non-Muslims (which seems lately to resemble more and more a war against everyone except al Qaeda fighters) and wishes to become a legitimate political movement within Afghanistan, without al Qaeda’s “help” bringing them nothing but grief.

One sign that they may be serious is the fact that Saudi Arabia is hosting the talks between government officials and Taliban leaders.  Captain Ed points out that the Saudis have their own reasons to see the Taliban sever their ties with al Qaeda and join forces with Karzai; al Qaeda has been gunning for the Saudi royal family as well for years, and lately the Taliban have been accepting arms support from Iran, which has got to make anyone worried about Iran’s sphere of influence fidgety.  It is unlikely that the Saudis would be wasting their time if they thought there was a chance that the Taliban were setting them up with sham negotiations meant only to buy time for al Qaeda to regroup.

As for our own interests, NATO troops would have a whole lot less of a rough time fighting the remaining shreds of al Qaeda than they would the wider Taliban movement.  The Taliban would also feel safe in Afghanistan for a change, meaning fewer hostile fighters scurrying across the border into Pakistan, where NATO rockets and aerial drones have improved their accuracy in eliminating them but still annoy the not-yet-stable Pakistani government with their intrusiveness.  Fewer incursions into Pakistan’s territory and airspace can only help make things more stable in that country.

Obstacles remain.  The Taliban have declared their separation from al Qaeda, but a formal renunciation of violence in general is necessary, as is adherence to the democratic principles enshrined in the country’s new constitution, before Hamid Karzai fully welcomes them into the new Afghanistan’s political process.  However, Karzai is negotiating from a position of strength (the Taliban came to him, after all), and he may even be in a position to compel them to give up their leaders in exchange for safe haven.  Wouldn’t it be a measure of poetic justice if the Taliban ultimately brought about the downfall of the leaders of the terrorist group that brought the wrath of the U.S. and NATO on the heads of the Taliban-led Afghan government in 2001 in the first place?

Where does AP get its poll samples??

Attention:  No matter what the AP says, Obama is not leading McCain by 7 points today, and there has not been a 12-point swing in Obama’s favor since the GOP convention.  At least, such a thing can’t be determined by the most recent poll from AP.

I’ve said before on this blog that some things can be measured by polls, and some can’t.  Of course, presidential preferences among voters can, but only if you do it right:  among other things, you have to be careful to keep your sample constant, or at least credibly reflective of available public data.  Newsbusters has uncovered the methodology of the last two presidential polls conducted for AP by GfK Roper, who has a history of this kind of sloppiness (and yes, I call it sloppiness…unlike Newsbusters, I doubt it was deliberate “cooking,” as they put it).

AP/Roper’s poll of 9/5-10 measured a party division ratio in that poll’s sample of 31Rep/33Dem/36Ind, which sounds about right coming out of a GOP convention (since not all states register voters by party, national polls ask respondents the party with which they affiliate or identify most closely, and that is a more subjective question than simple party registration).

The sample for their 9/27-30 poll, during which Nancy Pelosi was blowing the bailout vote with her ridiculous, spiteful, childish floor speech just before her bill went down, swung wildly in the Democrats’ direction to 29Rep/40Dem/31Ind.  That measure is entirely counterintuitive, especially given that Barack Obama did nothing to distinguish himself during that negotiation and vote.

Democrats normally enjoy a national party registration advantage (they were ahead in raw numbers even before they lost both houses of Congress in 1994), and it’s hardly unusual for registration numbers nationwide to fluctuate from one year to the next, but a nine-point swing toward the Democrats in party identification, in three weeks?  That just doesn’t happen, and for AP/Roper to try to sneak these poll results into the media stream while burying their party balance stats is inexcusable.

The AP/Roper poll after the GOP convention showed McCain ahead by 5 points.  I would never argue that McCain hasn’t noticeably lost ground nationally since then, but this follow-up poll by the exact same pollster showing Obama now ahead by 7 doesn’t even pass the laugh test, when considered in light of the crazy swing in party affiliation.  Unfortunately, it’s already been factored into the RealClearPolitics average, and become part of the conventional wisdom.

Suspicious “no” votes: Naming names

Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama deliberately threw the fight on the bailout.

John Gibson on his radio show spoke to a livid Karl Rove, who had a long list of Democratic legislators at hand who voted “no” on the bailout bill, but would never conceivably have done so if Pelosi and Obama had given them the slightest push for their support.  That assumes, of course, that the two of them had even the slightest intention of seeing this bill passed.  (Via Allahpundit.)

  • Pelosi couldn’t deliver committee and subcommittee chairmen who owe their positions and posh offices to her good graces?
  • Obama couldn’t deliver the Congressional Black Caucus, including those from Chicago’s South Side, one of whom (Jesse Jackson, Jr.) is his campaign co-chair?
  • Neither of them could deliver safe incumbents who haven’t faced a competitive election in years, and will probably be in Congress until they die?

Laughable.  These representatives were told they were free to vote “no” without risk of repercussions from voters, Speaker Pelosi, or a prospective President Obama.  All this, to preserve the Wall Street meltdown as a crisis to blame on the Republicans and John McCain.  The cherry on top is Pelosi’s disgraceful speech, which if nothing else at least alerted Republicans they were being set up.

MORE: The New York Times reports the number of Democratic holdouts Obama called to ask for their votes for a bill he ostensibly supported: zero. Scroll down to where the Times usually stows nuggets like this one — third paragraph from the bottom.

EVEN MORE: Power Line has some more insight.

The blame game: Who’s right?

An enormously fascinating video on YouTube goes quite a long way toward answering this question (hat tip: Power Line).

Roger Simon at PajamasMedia provides a digest of “data points from the video and other sources.”

YouTube’s C-SPAN corner isn’t likely to do the Democrats many favors this year.

Well, that was ad money well spent

OK…can somebody help me figure out how this latest Obama campaign ad hurts John McCain?

Far as I can see, this ad would be just as effective in turning out McCain voters as it would Obama voters.  The late-appearing caption in the faux-NBC newscast saying “Turnout Lower Than Expected” is easy to miss.  It’s really the only thing that could possibly puncture what amounts to a well-constructed simulation of a McCainiac’s heart’s dream.  The easier it is for McCain voters to visualize what this commerical depicts in painstaking detail, the more motivated they are to bring it to fruition.

Well done, Obama campaign.  Message received:  “McCain = Winner.”  Brilliant.

Joe Biden: Conscience of the Obama ticket? UPDATE: Never mind.

A couple of weeks ago, the Obama campaign released a campaign ad sneering that John McCain doesn’t use a computer.  (Link via Power Line.)  Protests soon arose that the ad was a cheap shot, since the reason McCain doesn’t use a computer is because his Vietnam-era injuries make it very uncomfortable for him to use a keyboard.  (McCain also has trouble with things like tying his shoes, combing his hair, and putting on a shirt, for the same reason.)

Most people had given up waiting for the Obama campaign to apologize, or express regret, or at least disclaim any intent toward horrendous taste, in some buried statement issued over a weekend when nobody would read it.

As it happens, no such statement has been forthcoming from the Obama campaign, let alone Sen. Obama himself, but a surprise confession has issued from what you might think was the unlikeliest of places:  Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden.

Details, plus a whiplash-inducing UPDATE, below the break.

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