Eight Days of Stupid

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A meteor could hit the earth this week. Russia could go for broke and invade all of its neighbors. But what we're most likely to see in the final eight days of the presidential campaign is continued Barack Obama dominance measured by a few good polls for John McCain. Obama will tell his supporters not to get cocky. McCain will claim he's roaring back.

Why do we know this? Because that's what always happens. From the Associated Press on Nov. 2, 1988:

"Today, the polls are closing, the momentum is our way," [Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen] told a rally attended by about 2,000 students Tuesday night at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Republicans think the campaign is over and are "popping those campaign corks, but I'll tell you on November ninth they're going to have the worst hangover they've ever had," he said.

As he has been doing at other stops, Bentsen held over his head a reprint of the 1948 Chicago Tribune which declared, wrongly, "Dewey Defeats Truman."…

[Bentsen press secretary Mike] McCurry, asked about new national polls sponsored by news organizations showing double-digit leads for Bush, said, "we don't necessarily think those are accurate. They are not consistent with the campaign's own polls," he said.

Eight days out it's not a good sign that the McCain campaign is still running on Drudge and deciding that a 2001 interview Obama gave about the Civil Rights movement and the Supreme Court is finally gonna take him out. It'll be a full week of stuff like that, along with claims (from pundits more than McCain) that the GOP is faring just as well, or better, than Gore and Kerry did in their final weeks. Don't buy that. RealClearPolitics collated the final polls from 2004, which, if you averaged them, were within two points of the actual result. The site has added final results to its battleground state chart, too.

You can glean two important things from RCP's averages. The first is that Obama is overperforming, and McCain is underpeforming, their party's candidates in 2000 and 2004. The second is important if you buy Bill Greener's highly dubious theory that all "undecided" voters in the polls will break for the white candidate. Obama is over 50 percent in every state that Kerry won, and over 50 percent in Iowa, Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado. Give McCain every undecided voter in the country this week, and Obama wins the election anyway with 306 electoral votes.

It's going to be a silly week, full of stories like this (in which a Georgia voter is informed, to her surprise, that she's not a U.S. citizen) and negative news cycles. But it would take a miracle (or, if you're a Democrat, a catastrophe) to change anything.

NEXT: Hot, Flat, and Inaccurate

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  1. Why do we know this? Because that’s what always happens.

    You can’t tell me that the Mondale campaign was that delusional though? There’s no way they thought they had a chance, right?

  2. I don’t know…Democrats are very good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  3. Die, damn you! DIE!!!!!!

    (Not you, Dave- I am sick to death of this election fucking clown show.)

  4. Whoops- some idiot forgot to close my “bold” tag.

  5. I think “news” divisions are just like the sport divisions – yeah, they’re down by 48 points, and half the team in now paralized, but they COULD come back!!!
    If they said the horserace was over, they might have to talk about…what is worse to a newscaster than having his eyeballs gouged out with a rusty spoon… actual substance!!!

  6. Though I think Obama will win (going away), it wouldn’t at the same time shock me if the polling was off and McCain won. I write this because of the apparent problems with polling associated with the primary in NH back in January.

  7. McCain’s supporters are whistling through the graveyard. In the campaign bunker, however, they know its over.

  8. I’ve been thinking that for a while, fresno dan.

    I listen to sports talk radio and read the sports pages, it works exactly the same way as the political punditocracy on the cable news shows, internet, and radio.

    Sports journalism is just like political journalism, but with lower stakes.

  9. But . . . but . . . but Dave! You left out the most important angle: RACISM! If the polls are wrong it is racism. Just look at the times Lenora (Branch) Fulani ran for national office!

    However, I am sure some of the comments will cover the topic.

  10. McCain’s supporters are whistling through the graveyard. In the campaign bunker, however, they know its over.

    Finally noticed their Virginia HQ while walking to work this AM. Seemed like a bunch of busy little bees those McCain workers.

  11. When a candidate begins invoking Harry Truman, it’s over.

    Before McCain this year, the last candidate to do that was Bob Dole in 1996.

  12. Hey look everyone polls show Weigel’s candidate is going to win….hurray for Weigel.

  13. Sports journalism is just like political journalism, but with lower stakes.

    The Pac 10 is underrated because of the East Coast media bias!

  14. However, I am sure some of the comments will cover the topic.

    Oh, certainly, Guy.

    The McCain supporters crow about the mythical Bradley Effect on all of the poll threads.

  15. I don’t know, I can think of worse things to talk about eight days out of an election than the possible effects of creeping socialism and the theoretical arguments for and against the redistribution of wealth. That’s better than talking about a DUI or an OBL tape.

  16. Mo, are you suggesting that the Eastern Seaboard Programming Network doesn’t provide enough coverage of the rest of the country.

    Oops, gotta go – they’re rerunnning a Sox-Yankees game from 2002!

  17. If we’re going with the sports analogies, as I said before Democrats are the Red Sox in 2004–OMG WE CANT WIN! WE NEVER WIN! TEH YANKEES (Republicans)! THEY ALWAYS BEAT US!!! SOMETHING MUST GO WRONG!

  18. Eight days out it’s not a good sign that the McCain campaign is still running on Drudge and deciding that a 2001 interview Obama gave about the Civil Rights movement and the Supreme Court is finally gonna take him out.

    I like how an interview with Obama about the constitutionality of wealth redistribution and the only thing Weigel can find interesting to mention about it is how Drudge is an organ of the McCain campaign.

    Reason should put up a filter on the blog so i can just turn his articles off.

  19. I don’t know, I can think of worse things to talk about eight days out of an election than the possible effects of creeping socialism and the theoretical arguments for and against the redistribution of wealth.

    Agreed. Except it’s like Trotsky and Lenin arguing about who is and isn’t a commie.

  20. I think Drudge lost a lot of his credibility with the Ashley Todd debacle.

  21. Mo | October 27, 2008, 1:02pm | #
    Sports journalism is just like political journalism, but with lower stakes.

    The Pac 10 is underrated because of the East Coast media bias!

    Like the pre-game show commentators talking about the Eagles as if they are a post season caliber team this year. Skins or the Pats, no question. But Philly? Ha ha ha hahahha ha.

  22. don’t know, I can think of worse things to talk about eight days out of an election than the possible effects of creeping socialism and the theoretical arguments for and against the redistribution of wealth.

    Agreed. Except it’s like Trotsky and Lenin arguing about who is and isn’t a commie.

    More like pre-WWII Stalin and Trotsky:

    ‘Communism in ONE country!’

    ‘Communism all the world over!’

    AFAIC, you voted for the bailout, you suck.

  23. But since the 2000 and 2004 elections were “stolen” by the Republicans I would expect the same to be true of this election. I mean if they possess such power why wouldn’t they use it in every election? Right? What’s the axiom, the good news is one of them will lose, the bad news is one of them will win. That seems true now more than ever.

  24. Corning:
    Apropos of Halloween:

    Boo
    Fucking
    Hoo.

  25. McCain was back in Iowa this weekend for a campaign stop.

    All the polls show Iowa going hard over for Obama.

    The McCain staff must be rolling a D20 each day to see where John should campaign the next day. There doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for McCain to campaign in Iowa at this point.

  26. “the constitutionality of wealth redistribution.”

    Sure would be nice if there was a blog or a magazine where one could read about and discuss such things in regards to a presidential race.

  27. “Sure would be nice if there was a blog or a magazine where one could read about and discuss such things in regards to a presidential race.”

    Maybe you should start one. Then you could go filter yourself!

  28. Reason should put up a filter on the blog so i can just turn his articles off.

    Where do you think you are? /.?*

    Oh, an OT reminder, Guy Fawkes day is just around the corner!

    */. still has writer filtering doesn’t it? Haven’t been there in a while.

  29. AFAIC, you voted for the bailout, you suck.

    I agree. I would somewhat prefer a McCain presidency to an Obama one. Lesser of two evils and all that. Before the bailout vote McCain had a (small) chance of getting my vote. But the bailout vote proved that he doesn’t actually believe in free-market capitalism any more than Obama does.

  30. McCain was back in Iowa this weekend for a campaign stop.

    All the polls show Iowa going hard over for Obama.

    Did he make yet another speech about the horrors of ethanol subsidies? Seems like the sort of tone-deaf, verging dangerously close to credible accusations of senility thing he’d do.

  31. Scary Monsters! | October 27, 2008, 1:53pm | #
    Corning:
    Apropos of Halloween:

    Boo
    Fucking
    Hoo.

    and

    * | October 27, 2008, 2:01pm | #
    “Sure would be nice if there was a blog or a magazine where one could read about and discuss such things in regards to a presidential race.”

    Maybe you should start one. Then you could go filter yourself!

    When did Weigel get a fan? Or is he trolling his own articles now?

  32. “The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf.”

    I would think that a magazine that claims to be for free markets and free minds would be a little bit concerned about a major party candidate having said something like that. Does Obama still hold these views? If he doesn’t, why did he change? What does he think now? Those are the kinds of questions you would hope Reason if no one else would answer. God knows if McCain said something like that Welch would be working on another book.

    We live in strange times. Reason has gone in the tank for the most honestly socialistic candidate in history. Moreover, a candidate that doesn’t even throw them a bone on the drug war, gun rights or any other non-economic issues. I guess Libertarian just means gay marriage and being against the Iraq war. All other issues are just tangential.

  33. The Republicans think the campaign is over and are “popping those campaign corks, but I’ll tell you on November ninth they’re going to have the worst hangover they’ve ever had,” he said.

    campaign corks? what the heck are those?

    🙂

  34. One doesn’t have to be a fan of Weigel to notice the following pattern:

    Republican in September: “McCain isn’t really losing! The polls/media are biased, etc.”

    Republican in late October: “Okay, McCain is losing, but: Socialism! Or other Talking Point!”

    Just fucking get over it. Your taxes have been spreading the wealth to welfare recipients such as the military-industrial complex for years. And Republicans have been leading the way.

  35. I think Drudge lost a lot of his credibility with the Ashley Todd debacle.

    You are making the assumption that your typical Drudge reader cares that it was fake.

  36. Some Guy–

    Good point.

  37. I like how an interview with Obama about the constitutionality of wealth redistribution and the only thing Weigel can find interesting to mention about it is how Drudge is an organ of the McCain campaign.

    He did. He mentioned that it’s not going to work.

  38. The stuff about “spreading the wealth” and “socialism” is McCain making sure his base bothers to show up–and the fact he still isn’t sure he’s secured his base is a testament to how pathetic his campaign is.

  39. He did. He mentioned that it’s not going to work.

    Also, another reasonoid should be posting about that today.

  40. “The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.”

    I didn’t read the whole interview, but there’s nothing super scary in that clip. It sounds mostly descriptivist, rather than him lamenting that it didn’t do this. Is there another part of the interview where he says that the SCOTUS should do this? That would be scary, this is less so.

    “It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf.”

    There’s debate over whether or not the Constitution says what the federal/state government can do (my belief) vs. what it can’t do (its limits, which I disagree with). However, those beliefs are relatively non-partisan. There are many conservatives that believe the Constitution says what the government can’t do. But belief that the Constitution grants negative rights isn’t that radical (see: Bork and the 9th).

  41. Sports journalism is just like political journalism, but with lower stakes.

    There are no higher stakes than the World Series/Stanley Cup/Super Bowl/NBA Championship.

    But we agree that if the announcers say “this fuckers over” at halftime, some of the viewers will change the channel to something that is actually interesting.

  42. I think Drudge lost a lot of his credibility with the Ashley Todd debacle.

    I had to google her name to jog my memory. She barely got 15 seconds.

  43. Eight days out it’s not a good sign that the McCain campaign is still running on Drudge and deciding that a 2001 interview Obama gave about the Civil Rights movement and the Supreme Court is finally gonna take him out.

    Christ, what a weak campaign. Their oppo people couldn’t turn this up months ago? They deserve to lose.

    I think Drudge lost a lot of his credibility with the Ashley Todd debacle.

    How so? He linked to the news, without a whit of commentary pro or con, as is his wont.

    Before the bailout vote McCain had a (small) chance of getting my vote.

    If he had taken the opportunity to run against Congress and the bailout, he’d be winning now, and I, too, just might vote for him.

    Instead, he showed he’s been in the Senate too damn long to be President.

  44. Just fucking get over it. Your taxes have been spreading the wealth to welfare recipients such as the military-industrial complex for years. And Republicans have been leading the way.

    Reason has made an excellent case on why McCain should not be president.

    Why is it so impossible for them to make a case against Obama?

    But that is beside the point.

    Anytime, no matter the circumstances, the issue of “the constitutionality of wealth redistribution” comes up I would think Reason would jump at the chance to talk about.

  45. Sports journalism is just like political journalism, but with lower stakes.

    I disagree with that. A high-profile sports reporter who consistently picks wrong and gives bad analysis to the fantasy hordes will find him or herself out of a job very quickly.

    As for political journalism…well, David Brooks and Bill Kristol.

  46. Corning at 5:01:

    Those are a couple of good points.

  47. Of course, there’s also Dick Vitale on the sports side, so you might be right.

  48. Anyone else get the feeling that if Obama raped and killed a libertarian that Weigel would only mention it in the context of how McCain’s campaign is stupid for bringing it up?

  49. You’ve got a point there, cunnivore.

    Who was that dipshit who always got his picks wrong? “It would be great if the Jets pulled off this upset, so I’m’a pick the Jets!”

    Shannon Sharpe? Is the who I’m thinking of?

  50. I am pretty sure Obama wins and prefer him over McCain – I am voting for Barr, but in Oregon WTF.

    But what if the 5% to 8% lead evaporates b/c certain segments of the country can’t pull the lever for a black man. I think it would make ’68 look like a prom dance.

  51. About the “redistrubiting the wealth”, that wasn’t said by Obama, that’s been added. Listen to the original interview, it’s out there.

    Obama was saying that civil rights shouldn’t have been decided through the courts, it should have been legislated. So, he’s saying that if you want “change”, suing for it isn’t the best way.

  52. I don’t see it that way. The polls ARE closing and it appears Obama wants to coast in. I think he needs to hammer McCain one more time with something fierce:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWOZKeOauNI

    Don’t know why he hasn’t used this in an ad. maybe he doesn’t want to bring up the illegal immigrant issue, but it can be played without that coming up, i think.

    Anyways, with Fox News running the McCain campaign the pathetic nature of it is even more apparent. Imagine if he were to win what a fiasco he would be dealing with in regards to governing. Imagine Sarah walking into teh Senate chambers and trying to stir stuff up. Spare us all, please!
    It’s interesting that i haven’t read any in depth examination of Obama’s GOTV operation. The must be keeping it under tight wraps. Still, it seems like , with everything out there in the public, a resourceful journalist would do some research and write a story on it’s possible effect.

  53. “I would think that a magazine that claims to be for free markets and free minds would be a little bit concerned about a major party candidate having said something like that.”

    What exactly are you concerned about? I will fisk the paragraph:

    “The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. (stating that the S.C. did not require redistribution of wealth – it could be added that the S.C. allowed it) To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. (offered the opinion that the Warren Court was not that radical) It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. (essentially stated the obvious that the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties – i assume you agree with that) Says what the states can’t do to you. (again, stating the obvious) Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf. (again, stating the obvious – though one might point out that providing for the common defense is something the government must do on your behalf)”

    So, essentially, it seems to me that Obama offers the opinion that the Warren Court wasn’t that radical. Is that at all surprising for a Democrat/major party candidate?

  54. Imagine 6 months ago that one of the Presidential candidates would be going around calling the other a “socialist”, a “communist” and someone who “pals around with terrorists”. Imagine how ridiculous it would have sounded. Now, becasue we’ve had 6 months of media massaging and insinuations it doesn’t seem so half-cocked. Well, it is half-cocked. And it’s ridiculous.

    McCain had the same view regarding tax policies as recent as seven years ago.
    And Palin can’t even bring herself to call an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist.

    Any one one wo doesn’t think al queda is jumping for joy hoping McCain wins is nuts. Who better to drain what’s left of the treasury of the US than someone who thinks wars are the way to change the world. There’s a reason Iran has eased up on assisting Iraq insurgents. They see an Obama adminitration as one who will be better able to work with European allies to better secure the region and push back against Iranian influence.

    At least that’s my a take on matters.

  55. Weigel has it about right. It is almost a ritual. I have to say I blinked when they brought up this radio interview. Civil rights and the supreme court? Somehow I don’t see this having much resonance against yesterdays new stock market slide, the news the govt is going to bailout GM/Chrysler, the never ending saga of Palin’s wardrobe which for some reason Palin want’s to keep on the radar, and the conviction of Ted Stevens. The latter alone has probably taken a point off every Republican senator running for re-election. For some reason posters here seem to be tying themselves to the belief the polls are closing. They are not although McCain might get the odd good number from those that have a motive for this type of result. In fact I’m coming to the view that this is going to be a wave election, for a long time I thought 49/51 for Obama, I now see 45/55 for Obama with the distinct possibility of 42/58 because we’re starting to see the tip of Obama’s GOTV operation in which he has invested a huge amount of money and seems to have saturated the states in play with offices, paid staffers and volunteers. With this level of organization, the intense level of anger in the country (and when 90% say the country is going in the wrong direction it’s hard to deny), and the corresponding level of enthusiasm amongst Dems this could easily turn tidal. I’ve been reading odd press reports for weeks about the difference between Obama and McCain offices so decided a few days ago to do a check when I was in PA and had an afternoon to kill. It is not a fiction. The McCain office was pretty dead while the Obama office was packed on Thursday afternoon and humming. Purely anecdotal but I suspect it’s typical. So we’ll see. But I think Mr Weigel isn’t far off the mark.

  56. But it would take a miracle (or, if you’re a Democrat, a catastrophe) to change anything.

    Well, Democrats are excellent at running their campaigns like catastrophes, so I’m not getting my hopes up yet.

    Being a Democrat is like being a Cubs fan in many ways.

  57. Regarding the redistributionist quote, more context from afterward in the same interview:

    “One of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement, was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways, we still stuffer from that.”

    So basically he’s saying that even the most liberal court was essentially constrained by the constitution (it defines things the gov’t can’t do, rather than what the gov’t MUST do), and so liberals can’t count on the courts to make changes in society, they have to rely on changing public opinion

  58. also why i’m glad when i learned that the obama campaign is pushing hard against the idea that they’re winning, and continues to exhort volunteers and supporters to run through the finish line.

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