Posts Tagged ‘US Presidential Election’
Stayed up till 5 am here in the UK, but once Iowa looked set for Obama not Romney it was clear he was going to win the electoral college. He has done so 303 to 206 with Florida still being counted; that is academic as the finishing post was 270. It was unclear when I went to bed if he would win the popular vote. This may have led to claims of lacking a moral mandate – something which did not seem to hinder George W Bush in his first term. However at time of writing it stands 50.3% to 48.2% for Obama. Symbolically this matters.
Though euphoric that he won, I am aware that his second term may not deliver. The fiscal cliff needs to be managed with what has been a hostile House of Representatives (still controlled by The Republicans). Whilst they may have been playing politics, they will still have an eye on the White House in 2016. We can hope they will work in the interests of the economy and the environment (these things impact on me too in the UK). Obama may be able to deal more robustly with Syria without electoral concerns; Turkey’s request to NATO for patriot missiles to be deployed along the border a first test of this.
I hope the better nature of ourselves can come out now the election is over. We cannot afford politics as normal. With climate change, global macro economic turbulence, and poverty an issue at home and abroad the world needs to forget about rivalry whether domestic or foreign.
We need a politics for a new era. That change starts with us because the issues are so critical, and we must make our elected representatives realise this.
In short politics never sleeps whatever the electoral cycle. Stay awake, and do not just dream.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
I never had this much interest in the decision that Americans faced when voting for the President then now. In part that is due to the Bush years, which placed loyalty to friends before responsibility in office whether Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Brown at FEMA or nominating his personal lawyer Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court – “a pit bull in size six shoes” as he described her. Katrina came a year too late to blow Bush out of the White House; he has never recovered from that. Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, New Orleans our words dominating the political legacy of the outgoing President.
While Bush did not deserve a second term I found it difficult to get excited by Kerry. He was unconvincing in how he was going to change things, while Bush had four years in office to point to as President. Right or wrong in his actions, in an uncertain terrified world people stuck with the devil they knew in the hope it may take one to tame and catch one; the devil they did not know was a flip flopper that gave a mixed signal. People did not want peace then, they wanted the enemies of America to know they would attack if provoked 100%.
Four years later Osama Bin Laden is still free to mastermind, and the Al Qaeda franchise means that even with his capture splinter cells have the ability to cause mayhem. Short of John McCain appearing bruised and battered with a chained Bin Laden – “My friends, I got him!” – McCain needs a surge of his own in battleground states to all go his way to defeat Obama. Spoilt ballot papers confusing Osama/Obama will not be enough. Doubt that Obama has the seasoning to do the Commander in Chief role may.
Which brings me back to why this election matters for me. Obama is the man that could have taught Martin Luther King in the art of public speaking, or that in an age of skepticism about politicians being able to change things and cynicism that they actually want to he is a breath of fresh air that threatens to blow through the stale odour of closed backrooms in Washington DC. Whether there is enough huff and puff to open the door and effect real change is debatable.
There is nothing beyond the rhetoric that points to Obama being able to do those things. He inspires, and his ambition to always be on the way to the next level can go no further then President of the United States. The only place left is a legacy, and if your ambition is to go beyond the admiration held for Abraham Lincoln, the question is whether Obama has what it takes. The problem is that we will only know that when he is in office.
McCain though is someone I have long admired on this side of the pond – not least because he was reported on. He often criticised Bush, he took on the religious right in his party and his attitude to abortion was like my own – I may not like it but I like the idea of illegal abortions even less, and reproductive issues are between a patient and a doctor. On the economy he was for free trade, and on the environment he stood out.
However the McCain of 2008 now is a pale shade of the McCain of 2000. His political persona is like comparing the physical Michale Jackson of “Blood on the Dance Floor” with the one that did “Billy Jean”. The transformation is unnatural, and what you once admired has disappeared in artificial layers, as the beat changes to the rhythm of the religious right. Blame it on the bogey; to get the gig he had to dance to their tune.
Picking Sarah Palin as the Vice President demolished any lingering respect for McCain. At 72 it would only be right to pick a heavy weight – he owed that to the American people. Instead he picked someone with over a years experience as a Governor and no knowledge of the economy and foreign affairs. Her folksy glamorous style to motivate the Republican base and appeal to women was about spin and not substance. Had there been a shorter time between choosing her and Polling Day she may definitely given him the White House. Under media scrutiny she has come across as a rabbit caught in the headlights, a pit ball with lipstick trapped in the cross hairs.
Hitchens makes the point that character is a political issue. On that score McCain has looked like someone wondering around having forgotten what he stood for. He cancelled his campaigning to resolve the financial crisis in the Senate. The result was the majority of Republicans were against the measure. It was a real test of his ability to lead, and he fell down.
In the last debate he was restless, a bewildered look in his eyes that people would consider anyone but him for President. Obama was poised, dignified and calm – a rock in a stormy sea. He toned down the professor lecturer, and became a statesman ready to do the job. McCain looked like he was ready for his medication.
McCain really needs a knock out blow. At the moment Obama has an average lead of 8% in the polls. Very close to the lead I predict he needs of 10% by mid October to assure himself of the Presidency. Because I think the only way to go is down for Obama as it becomes his to loose and I think the polls exaggerate his current support. The real test is how so in the battleground states that analysis plays out. The problem for McCain is he needs a clean sweep of the toss up states to win – the 2% swing of itself is not beyond possibility. That needs stressing because though the final result may seem huge, the margins of victory that brought them about in key states may be minuscule in comparison. Every vote will count in those states and the Obama enthusiasm for getting out the vote may be what secures him victory. But the wind of change is blowing in Obama’s favour.
Iraq is an issue – yet the fatalities have been considerably less for US forces (under ten a month) and the murder rate for Iraq in 2008 looks set to be less than 2007. Put in perspective, Iraq is a little more dangerous for the population than for black people in America in terms of homicide [source]. McCain needs to tackle Obama about the surge, which together with support of Al Qaeda dropping in Iraq have played a part in the improving security situation.
McCain’s polling went down sharply while Obama’s went up after the second debate. Stuck behind a coffee table directly by your opponent, McCain has to come up with something in the third debate to turn things around. He cannot afford another dip. As polling day draws nearer the stay at home Republicans may turn up, having succeeded in making McCain have to appeal to them rather than undecideds and independents or slightly leaning Democrats. Should McCain loose, they will have to shoulder some of the blame – because having a candidate they wanted rather than the man they had meant McCain was diminished.
If only McCain had secured the Republican nomination instead of Bush in 2000. That was his time. The future now belongs to Obama.
Sarah Palin may be disappointed that they have left the state of Michigan. Yet with Obama having a 7% lead in a state that voted for Kerry and Gore, it makes much more sense for the Republicans to focus on the key battle states and take the resources from this state to those where it may make the difference. Namely:
State Electoral Count Obama lead (%)
North Carolina 15 0.5
Nevada 5 1.8
Ohio 20 2.0
Virgina 13 2.4
Florida 27 3.0 [source]
If the Republicans concede any of these states then McCain has lost the White House. Taking states like those above where candidates have a 3% lead or less gives Obama 264 and McCain 163 – to win all it takes is 270. Despite Obama having on average a 6% lead in the polls (ranging from 3% – 9%) it will be those marginal states above that decide it. If McCain can get a 1.5% swing to him from Obama he will win the White House.
As I think that the polls are over stating Obama’s lead and under representing McCain, it is still very possible for McCain to win the White House. It is tight, and giving up on States that Obama has a clear lead in may be the smart move.
What McCain cannot afford however is to loose any states he currently holds. The good news for him (unlike Obama) is that most states are solidly supporting him, with only two states being vulnerable:
State Electoral Count McCain lead (%)
Missouri 11 1.7
Indiana 11 2.2 [source]
So when people tell you it will be a landslide for Obama or a close run race the answer is that there is an element of truth. If all the toss up seats go as they indicate above then Obama wins triumphantly 353 to 185. But a closer race is well within the margin for error. Obama wins Flordia or Ohio and keeps the other states that strongly support him then it is game over for McCain.
If the polls are under representing support for McCain he has a good chance of a narrow win. All the states above that are for Obama voted for George Bush in both 2000 and 20004. That may yet be reflected as we get nearer to polling day.
So expect more things like Palin pointing out that Obama was on a charity board with a founder member of the Weather Underground (a terroirst organisation against US involvement in the Vietnam war) while campaigning in Colorado (leaning to Obama 4.4% lead but voted for Bush the previous two times). What the McCain camp hope is that if the election becomes about character McCain will win. With Obama in Virgina attacking McCain’s health plan we may yet see an ideological battle occur to against an economic meltdown backdrop.
The key thing will be getting out the vote in these states. If Obama supporters feel that it is a done deal they may be inclined to stay at home. That would be a nightmare on polling day when results show the contest closer then the media were calling it. Obama has shown that he can create the momentum. The thing is to keep it going and on election day deliver his supporters to the polling booth.
One thing which McCain and Palin may use in the campaign:
The positive component is pretty straightforward: McCain and Palin are common sense conservatives and proven reformers. The record of reform can be emphasized and contrasted with Obama’s and Biden’s record of conventional, go-along, get-along liberalism. And implicitly: If McCain and Palin are reformers and outsiders, it’s not Bush’s third term. More important is the negative message. The McCain campaign has to convince 51 percent of the voters they can’t trust Barack Obama to be our next president. This has an ideological component and a character component. [Weekly Standard]
Democrats keep the champagne in the fridge – instead keep drinking the coffee because you are going to have to bust a gut to make sure that Obama wins the key states above and not fall for the hype that is being generated. The time to relax is when the polls close, because it ain’t over till it’s over.
Obama must have been kicking himself for insisting Friday’s debate changed from the economy to foreign policy. Right now the polls are favouring Obama during the financial crisis, and Congress is at logger heads with the Presidents $700 billion rescue plan. One that would allow such future sums of money to be done by the Treasury Secretary without Congress deciding. Something may need doing, but that does not mean the power to scrutinize or hold people to account should not happen. It would also be good to ensure that there is something for the taxpayer rather than nationalising losses and bankers getting pay offs.
The economy is an issue which McCain looses to Obama on. He admitted before he secured the Republican nomination that economics was not his strong point. However, in a show of national leadership and bi partisanship, McCain suspended his campaign to return to Washington.
The worsening economic situation has seen voters increasingly turning to Obama as the candidate best able to lead the country through the crisis. A Washington Post/ABC News poll this morning showed Obama leading 52% to 43% among likely voters. The poll shows voters trust Obama more to handle the economy, 53% to 39%.
Both contenders are working out a joint statement on how they will handle the issue. However, Obama seems intent on going on campaigning while helping out in Washington, and that the debate is still happening Friday.
The action of McCain speaks louder than any policy either candidate has so far voiced on economic policy. At the very least, it is one that is easy to understand for the electorate. It could be an attempt to win votes, but then if politicians do that by taking action to solve a crisis then we may be inclined to say they are worthy of consideration for that.
It does look like it has caught Obama on the back foot, as McCain takes the lead. He looks like the senior Senator and that reminder may well mark out the contrast between him and Obama in the campaign. The official campaign may have stopped. The attempt to influence the voters of course is still business as usual.
It ain’t over till it’s over.
Trying to find the betting odds for a McCain win. May seem odd as I want Obama to win but I have a theory. Put a relatively short bet on who you do not want to win. If your team/person wins you are happy. If not, well you have some spending money to drown your sorrows. This philosophy is literally hedging your bets into a win win situation.
In doing so I came across poll figures which include Barr and Nadar. Effectively the spoiler candidates, Bob Barr is the Libertarian Party Candidate. One poll has the results in key battleground states being won by Obama, where a combined McCain/Barr vote winning those states. So based on these figures one person suggests:
To win this election John McCain should ask all of his supporters in Colorado, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia to vote for Bob Barr because a Bob Barr victory in these states would most likely keep Obama from receiving the majority of the elctoral [sic] college votes. This would leave it up to the House of Representatives to pick the president. Since each state would only receive one vote no matter how many Representatives they have, the most likely result would be McCain winning. The Senate would have to pick the veep and the Democrats would most likely win that race. The results would be a Republican President and a Democratic Vice President.
That idea ignores that the long term future would be the emergence of a contending third party in key states that could undermine the Republicans in the future. Sometimes the rational choice in electoral math is not necessarily the politically acceptable one.
The one thing that seems clear – without the Libertarian Party McCain’s chance at the White House would be better, and the odds would be shorter. But then I would not be so inclined to put a bet on him. Like I said, life is about hedging your bets.
The electoral math does not lie, but trying to get your head around it may involve one hell of a hang over the morning after election day. Put simply, the figures I have just quoted assumes that states with less than 3.1% lead for a candidate go that way come polling day.
All the states have a certain weight (therefore not equal) in the electoral college that decides who becomes President. As Al Gore showed the percentage of the popular vote nationwide is not the deciding factor but how a few key states, known as bell weather states, fall come polling day.
These battleground states are the key to who will win. In the past my prediction is that Obama will loose ground come polling day. I base that on people deciding nearer to polling day that McCain is more experienced for Commander in Chief, and also that people may underplay their intention to vote Republican (undecideds will unevenly break for McCain).
That analysis suggest that any state with up to a 3% lead for Obama now could turn against him come polling day. My prediction is that Colorado (9 votes) will not stay in Obama’s grasp. He has a 2.5% lead in a state that voted for George W. Bush twice (8.4% lead in 2000, 4.7% in 2004).
All other things remaining equal, that would give McCain the White House. In terms of the popular vote I have stated that Obama needs 5% come mid October, which would by polling day drop to 3% – to be sure of winning the White House. In short I am saying that he will drop 2% points in that time frame. If he is less than 5% come mid October then McCain has every reason to hope that his key states are safe and that a state like Colorado would be his.
Depending on what poll you use, Obama has up to 5% or McCain a 1% lead. Obama seems to have taken the lead back from McCain with an average of 2.7%. Even if we go for the four percent it still means a photo finish come Polling day. The question is whether McCain can pull in front. Hopefully for his campaign the brief moment he was leading Obama will return, and that he has not peaked too early.
The televised debates will give us more to go on. McCain needs to improve the vote – at the moment he is polling worse than George W Bush did last time (save for Louisiana, Arizona and Arkansas). If he can have a good showing against Obama then he could put New Hampshire (4) back into play which currently is Obama’s by only 1.7% (voted Kerry in 2004, George W Bush 2000 each time a 1.3% lead). All other things being equal a state like New Hampshire with only 4 votes could in that situation make it a dead heat.
Obama will be favoured for his more media friendly presentation then McCain’s more town hall approach. Because of how many seats are only just leaning to the candidates (take those seats out of the race and it is 219 -189 for Obama) means that slip ups and gaffes really could tip states over as candidates trip up. With the result this close expect more spinning, mud throwing and general hysteria about the General Election.
My review of the debate can be found here.
On Youtube you can find these videos with the search “Rick Warren Faith Forum – Obama and McCain – Religion – 3/12” etc. The Part One video starts with an introduction to the style of the discussion, but then goes on to the actual event starting with Obama.
Transcripts of the forum can be found here.
An article on Rick Warren from The Economist can be found here.