Barr Wins Pennsylvania!

This is worth screenshotting: A routine test of Pennsylvania's election web site, with fake vote results for the four candidates on the ballot, has Bob Barr winning the state.
I think Barr would take that. However, Barack Obama is still running away with the Keystone State, and Michael Barone tries to figure out why.

if SurveyUSA is to be trusted, the Philly suburbs are about to give Obama a significantly larger percentage than the 53 percent John Kerry won there in 2004.

Why? My hypothesis is that that is because places like the Philly suburbs are places where the recent decline in household wealth has been most conspicuous. Housing prices mean a lot more to you when your house started off at $400,000 and declined to $290,000 than they did when you started off (as may be typical of Scranton or a blue-collar town in metro Pittsburgh) at $140,000 and declined to $110,000. Newspaper coverage of our current economic distress focuses on the very poor (like a recent Washington Post story on North Carolina, which focused on an ex-convict in a cheap motel in Charlotte), but the people who are getting hurt most visibly in their lifelong project of accumulating wealth are the more affluent. They're the ones whose house values have most visibly and spectacularly declined, and whose 401(k) accounts and stock portfolios have tanked in the last few months as well. Folks in Scranton or in the cheap motel in Charlotte didn't expect to live comfortably ever after off their increased house values, 401(k)'s, and Merrill Lynch accounts; a $700 monthly check from Social Security is about what they have long expected and that's not in danger (yet). Folks in the Philly suburbs did expect to live comfortably off such assets.

I've shrugged off a lot of Barone's commentary this year but this sounds right. The McCain campaign seems utterly convinced that Joe Wurzelbacher cut to the heart of Obama's economic message and by repeating Joe's charge that Obama is a "socialist," they can win over swing voters. But the Reagan/Bush economic message that actually won those people over was... tax cuts! Low cost of living! Owning your own home!

I don't hear anything similarly reassuring in McCain's message to suburban voters.

UPDATE: The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn panics:

McCain's argument is both more focused and more relevant than it has been for a while. This is bound to improve his poll numbers.

Just as he types this, the McCain campaign pivots to talk about... Palestinian professor and former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi.

UPDATE II: Ed Morrissey at the conservative Hot Air blog:

We talked quite a bit about polling at last night’s Talk the Vote event.  All three hosts reminded people that Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan with eight days left in the race in 1980 outside the margin of error.

Eight days before the election, yes. The day before the first and only debate, which Reagan won, and which catapulted him into the lead.

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  • ||

    Michael Barone spends a lot of time wondering why a Obama is winning in a Dem leaning state that has gone for a Dem in 5 straight elections? Really?

    The irony here is that voters motivated by anger at the decline in their wealth seem about to elect a president who has promised to embark on wealth-destroying policies.

    So Barone is saying that people are going to vote for Obama because George Bush destroyed all their wealth but this is ironic because Obama's going to destroy their wealth? (Whether you agree or not that this is W's fault, I think it's fair to say that most Americans believe this is mostly the fault of Bush and the cronies he has appointed to various regulatory bodies)

    Oh, and the Philadelphia Suburbs haven't been hit that hard by the bubble, either.

    Michael Barone please shut up.

  • ||

    So who's the calming, reassuring guy in that campaign ad?

    It doesn't look like McCain.

  • Elemenope||

    Michael Barone spends a lot of time wondering why a Obama is winning in a Dem leaning state that has gone for a Dem in 5 straight elections? Really?

    The question is not why Obama is winning PA. The question is why he's winning PA by ten points.

  • ||

    The McCain economic message is a mess.

    "Take Joe the Plumber." Plumber? "He's a regular guy, like you." Plumber? "He's in a position to buy a business that will allow him to clear a quarter-mil in takehome pay per year, pre-tax." A quarter mil?

    I heard a McCain ad on NH radio just now. "Barack Obama will tax your stock transactions!" What am I, Thurston Howell? "Bureaucrats will decide what health care you get, and when you get it!" You mean like my insurance company? That last bit, especially - it might appeal to people with a gold-plated health care plan with no deductables and a blowjob from an Asian nurse with every office visit, but I read about HMO bureaucrats denying coverage - not just delaying, denying - to people like me every day. What's next, Obama's tax plan will keep me from buying that eigth house?

    It's like Dwight Eisenhower - "Take the average American family earning $100,000 a year."

    Clueless. They don't know how to talk to people about economic issues, because they're so far removed from ordinary people.

  • ||

    The question is not why Obama is winning PA. The question is why he's winning PA by ten points.

    Still not a very valid question. If Obama were losing, asking why he would be losing would be a more valid question. I mean it's not like McCain has been running such a great campaign that it makes sense to ask why is Obama up more than a few points in state that has voted for a Dem (and seems to be getting bluer and bluer every year) in the last 5 elections.

    A more interesting question is why is Obama leading in Ohio, or Virginia? Why is he competitive in Montana?

  • SIV||

    "Buy and hold" equity investors are getting what's coming to them. Shoulda spent it on scratch off tickets suckers.

  • squarooticus||

    Did Reagan approve of that message? Without John McCain, I'd never know.

  • ||

    Reagan wants to expand home ownership? The subprime crisis is Reagan's fault!

  • ||

    I heard a McCain ad on NH radio just now. "Barack Obama will tax your stock transactions!" What am I, Thurston Howell? "Bureaucrats will decide what health care you get, and when you get it!" You mean like my insurance company? That last bit, especially - it might appeal to people with a gold-plated health care plan with no deductables and a blowjob from an Asian nurse with every office visit, but I read about HMO bureaucrats denying coverage - not just delaying, denying - to people like me every day. What's next, Obama's tax plan will keep me from buying that eigth house?

    I have to agree with this analysis. McCain does seem woefully out of touch. When the guy comes out and says that cutting capital gains taxes is his way to stimulate the economy and help those in need, I have to wonder what moron is advising him. How does this resonate with the people who are afraid whether they are gonna lose their home or if they are gonna get laid off? He has run a terrible campaign.

    Maybe if this was 1988 instead of 2008 his campaign would be a bit more successful.

  • ||

    I know, let's get a room full of people from the Ohio River valley and tell them "Barack Obama wants to spread the wealth."

    Look, they're all cheering! They love us!

  • dhex||

    Reagan wants to expand home ownership? The subprime crisis is Reagan's fault!

    "you mean he wants to sell homes to...[whispers] puh-puh-poor people?!?"

  • ||

    ELemenope-

    I guess things are looking erie for McCain.

  • Seward||

    joe,

    They don't know how to talk to people about economic issues...

    Most people are fairly ignorant when it comes to economics. Politicians who are "in touch" don't discuss economic issues; they deal with very broad themes about how they are going to make the lives of voters better. That's why pollsters take very broad measures of a population's attitudes towards the economy; that's about all they can accurately measure.

  • ||

    Most people are smart enough about their own economic situation to know when somebody doesn't have a clue about it.

    The "broad themes" John McCain is talking about are "People LOVE their HMOs!" and "People HATE the idea of spreading the wealth!" and "Taxing rich people more than everyone else is terrible!"

    Oh, and "We'll do a lot more of that stuff Republicans are always talking about."

  • ||

    When the guy comes out and says that cutting capital gains taxes is his way to stimulate the economy and help those in need,

    Especially because most people are looking at the S&P and Dow and wondering, "What capital gains is he talking about?"

  • ||

    Does every single Weigel post finish with exclamation-point sentences meant to mock someone else's position, or just the ones that make it to my feed reader?

  • Seward||

    joe,

    Most people are smart enough about their own economic situation to know when somebody doesn't have a clue about it.

    Ask your average person why one should tax corporations and they'll say that corporations should pay their "fair share." Little do most realize that these taxes are merely passed on to the consumers of the goods, etc. of that entity.

    People HATE the idea of spreading the wealth!"

    People like to spread the wealth of others.

    "Taxing rich people more than everyone else is terrible!"

    A lot of people (most?) people ascribe to that in tough economic times or until they become rich themselves. Then again, soaking rich people is about the dumbest thing one can do if effective, and is never very effective anyway (rich people are often very good at relieving themselves of tax burdens).

    So yeah, the McCain campaign is tone deaf in a way.

  • ||

    Just as he types this, the McCain campaign pivots to talk about... Palestinian professor and former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi.

    ...who received a big grant from the International Republican Institute for being a democratic reform, while the organization was chaired by...

    John McCain.

  • ||

    Many people, perhaps most, like the idea of redistributing wealth because most people have less than the average amount of wealth. That sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true, because a few super-wealthy individuals can raise the average far above the median. For example, in a room with one millionaire and nine flat-broke people, the average wealth is $100,000, even though the median level of wealth is $0. So a populist politician can score a lot of points by advocating a heavy tax on people worth more than $500,000 and distributing the money to those who have less than $500K. In the good old USA this is usually not proposed quite that overtly, but it's the premise behind Obamanomics.

  • ||

    "Buy and hold" equity investors... Don't make a whole lot of transactions.

    Because they're...

    ...you know...

    buy and hold equity investors.

  • Seward||

    David F. Nolan,

    Many people, perhaps most, like the idea of redistributing wealth because most people have less than the average amount of wealth.

    That sort of thinking appears however to be based on the notion of a fairly stagnant "economic pie," which is of course wrongheaded.

  • ||

    Seward,
    It may be wrongheaded but it is how the average "plumber" Joe views the economic world. "There is a finite amount of wealthy and they have lots more than I do".

  • ||

    Errr, that should of course have been "fininte amount of wealth".

    Preview and READING are my friends.

  • ||

    Aaah, fuck it.

  • Elemenope||

    Errr, that should of course have been "fininte amount of wealth".

    R.C.'s Law: I liked the first one better.

  • ||

    The day before the first and only debate, which Reagan won, and which catapulted him into the lead.

    youtube link?

  • ||

    My prediction is that almost every state votes the same way it did in 2004. One or two states will swing the balance of this thing, and Pennsylvania will not be one of them. It probably comes down to Ohio again. The poll numbers are tightening up as we speak, and I think it would be premature for either side to start smoking victory cigars.

    Libertarians, of course, lose either way.

  • Seward||

    Kwix,

    It makes sense either way actually. :)

  • ||

    rich people are often very good at relieving themselves of tax burdens

    Study evolution and you will learn they are only rich because they are good at not paying taxes.

    The Problem is that taxing the rich selects financial success arbitrarily for "those who are good at not paying taxes" rather then how an untaxed market would which would select for "those who sell things people want at the price they want to pay"

  • Seward||

    joshua corning,

    I'd never considered it that way. I'll definately have to puzzle over that notion a bit.

  • ||

    I see you all have not lost your fight :

    GOOD! Because we have a lot to do. You! (the American people) are going to have to take back control of your elected government at every level, and set your government back on the right path of service to you, and the greater good of the World.

    Barack Obama and the democrats are your best hope of doing that now. Tell your family, friends, and everyone you know to support them as best they can. Because the Bush McCain vote fraud, vote cheating, vote buying, vote manipulation machine is already hard at work to cheat you again. And we all know what a disaster that has been the past 8 years of Bush McCain.

    Barack Obama and the democrats will need all the power you can give them at every level of government (Federal, State, County, and local City elected governments). Obama and the democrats will have an enormous mess to fix for the American people, and the rest of the World. A mess caused by the corrupt Bush McCain administration.

    You see, starting back in 2000, and before 911, it was mostly the Republican governors, Republican legislatures, and county elected Republican officials that conspired with the corrupt Bush McCain administration to raise college, and university tuitions by the fastest, and highest rate increases in American history. Some state tuitions went up by as much as a WHOPPING! 30% in one year.

    The reason the Bush McCain administration did this was to force struggling working class kids into the military to pay for the sudden jump in tuition. Which was forced on them by the corrupt Bush McCain administration, and their corrupt Republican Governors, and republican controlled state legislatures.

    See, Bush McCain had plans to get us into all these immoral, foolish, criminal, and unnecessary wars from the start. So they could use these wars to seize power, and later to get reelected. But, for their evil plan to work they needed more volunteer soldiers struggling to pay for an education whose blood they could spill to help them seize more power. Remember Bush McCain's "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!" theatrics.

    The exploitation, and lost lives of these finest Americans is despicable, disgusting, immoral, corrupt and criminal. And it makes me SICK, and ANGRY!

    You will have to vote for Obama, and the democrats in overwhelming numbers to overcome the Bush McCain vote fraud machine. Vote early if you can. Then help your fellow Americans cast their votes now, and on through election day. Vote for Obama, and the democrats like your life, and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. Because it does. You will not survive 4 more years of "Let Them Eat Cake" Bush McCain, and their republican allies.

    Just look at the mess we have now.

    You can fix this mess with your votes for Obama, and the democrats. And REMEMBER, no matter which of us may stumble or fall, the rest of you must continue to surge forward for Barack Obama, and the democrats, and for your-selves most of all. The children, and the World are counting on us.

    It's in your hands now. And I know you will get it done.

    God bless all of you.


    JACK SMITH - WORKING CLASS... :-)

  • ||

    Crap, Jack, your tirade almost made me want to vote for McCain. Then I came back to my senses and decided I can't vote for either McCain or Obama. Looks like Barr will be getting my vote this year.

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