A New Republic...an Party

After yesterday's schism of House Republicans the path forward seems clouded. Two-thirds of the party broke with leadership on the most crucial bill of the session. Michele Bachmann (Republican, Minnesota) cited the reason for the bill's failure as "maybe the bill just wasn't good." Maybe the bill wasn't good, but under that premise the negotiations also weren't good. If the negotiations weren't good how can the rank and file Republicans continue to blame Pelosi for her speech, or Obama's inability to deliver Democrats; when in essence all parties were responsible for the negotiations. Last time I checked the Democrats delivered 141 votes or two-thirds of the votes needed for the bill's passage. If the House Republicans voted in this same number there would be no discussion. The negotiations broke down at some point causing the Republican caucus to jump ship.

I'm not going to focus on how the negotiations broke down, but rather the result of such a catastrophic miscalculation. John McCain, whether responsible or not clearly played a role in the failed negotiations. McCain supported the bill, but only sixty-five others in his party held this same view. Going into the vote McCain's election chances hinged on the success or failure of the bailout. A deficiency pertaining to the politics at play is not acceptable. As a Republican, a vote against the bill was not necessarily the issue, but a vote against the failing bill had huge ramifications. It was not the Democrats who doomed McCain, but rather his own party.

As a result McCain can no longer win the economic vote. His chances of stealing Michigan or Pennsylvania are gone. He must restore his credibility, he must act, he cannot let the clock expire. His candidacy is at risk, but perhaps more importantly to him, the ideals for which his party stands hang in the balance. If John McCain truly puts his country first he will release Sarah Palin. The Sarah Palin selection embodies everything wrong with personal politics; a retreat from this selfish blunder would signify a new direction. Such a decision would also carry great personal sacrifice. John McCain's own presidential aspirations would essentially die. He's at a crossroad in American politics, he has a choice; he can either be charged with the proliferation of the Old Republican politics or he could be credited as the selfless creator of a New Republican Party.

Published on September 30th at 2:35 PM CT :: 1 Comment

Poll Update (9/30)

Obama is now winning or tied in essentially every state he thought he could compete in; North Carolina, Virgnia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, the list goes on. McCain is in serious trouble, and today's polls backup this claim:

Arizona (10)Rasmussen Reports9/29/200838593
Florida (27)Public Policy Polling (D)9/28/200849465
Georgia (15)SurveyUSA9/29/200844524
Indiana (11)SurveyUSA9/29/200845487
National (538)ABC News, Washington Post9/29/200848457
National (538)American Research Group9/29/200849456
Nevada (5)American Research Group9/29/200847494
New Jersey (15)Strategic Vision (R)9/28/2008483913
New Jersey (15)SurveyUSA9/28/200852426
North Carolina (15)American Research Group9/29/200846495
Ohio (20)InsiderAdvantage9/29/200847458
Ohio (20)SurveyUSA9/29/200848493
Virginia (13)InsiderAdvantage9/29/200851454
Virginia (13)American Research Group9/29/200846495

Investor's seem to be optimistic that some sort of bailout bill will be passed judging by the jump in the Dow, up almost 400 points. Unlike the traders I'm starting to legitimately question whether such a bill will actually get done. The White House is pushing the bill, McCain is pushing the bill, but when push came to shove they could not even get their constituency to support the bill. If you look at Arizonan and Alaskan Representatives, none of them voted for the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008." If the Republican's are going to paint a doomsday scenario, they need to support their rhetoric with votes.

I'll have an article up later tonight on the ramification's of McCain's failed "suspension" gimmick and what steps he must take to restore credibility.

Published on September 30th at 2:06 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Will McCain Re-suspend His Campaign?

The bailout failed in the House by a vote of 227-206. The House Republicans will ultimately face the blame. House Minority Leader John Boehner (Republican, Ohio) blamed the defeat on a partisan speech delivered by House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi preceding the vote. Rep. Roy Blunt (Republican, Virginia) later commented in a press conference that "a dozen or so votes" were lost due to this speech. The Republican machine is running with this talking point. It can however be easily rebutted and was by Rep. Barney Frank (Democrat, Massachusetts) who said "Well if that stopped people from voting, then shame on them. If people's feelings were hurt because of a speech and that led them to vote differently than what they thought the national interest [wanted], then they really don't belong here. They're not tough enough."

The Republican wing is also criticizing Nancy Pelosi for bringing a bill of such magnitude to the floor without the requisite votes for passage; the problem with this logic is that she had the votes. Nancy Pelosi, on Sunday evening, went to Republican leadership and said "I need 80 votes;" Rep. Roy Blunt stated that this threshold was deliverable, well it wasn't. Only 65 Republicans voted for the measure, 15 shy of expectations. The House Republican's will however share the blame, with John McCain.

John McCain, sensing the gravity of the situation issued the following statement on the matter:

"Senator Obama took a very different approach to the crisis our country faces...at first he didn't want to get involved, then he was monitoring the situation. That's not leadership that's watching from the sidelines."

This statement comes in stark contrast to a statement McCain made earlier:

"I went to Washington last week to make sure that the taxpayers where not left footing the bill of mistakes by Wall Street and the evils of Washington."

Well John, the taxpayer won't be left footing the bill, for the moment. Based on his supreme support of a bailout bill the logical conclusion follows that if not this bill, another. Will you suspend your campaign again to focus on the now amplified situation, or is that not politically convenient anymore? John McCain must re-suspend his campaign in order to validate his prior suspension, because nothing has changed.

The entire affair contributed to the single greatest point drop in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-777.68).

Update [4:17 CT]: McCain's giving a press conference right now. He just looks and sounds sad. His performance is almost robotic. John reads about five words, looks up, and then looks down again. He blamed congress for failing to pass the bailout while accepting no responsibility his inability to negotiate a bipartisan solution.

Published on September 29th at 3:37 PM CT :: 23 Comments

Poll Update (9/29)

Nothing of note yet, but Rasmussen's releasing five new polls at 6pm (ET, I think). The new Rasmussen polls are now included; Obama is losing by a single point in Ohio while leading by eight in Pennsylvania. The other states are within the margin of error with Obama slightly ahead or tied. An all around rough day for McCain:

Colorado (9)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/28/200849483
Florida (27)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/28/200847476
Florida (27)SurveyUSA9/28/200847485
North Carolina (15)Public Policy Polling (D)9/28/200847458
Ohio (20)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/28/200847485
Pennsylvania (21)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/28/200850428
Tennessee (11)Middle Tennessee State9/27/2008364816
Virginia (13)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/28/200850473

The VP Debate looms large in the distance, especially after today's market collapse. The debate will no doubt focus on the failed bailout bill and the economy at large. Palin knows nothing about the economy and I legitimately question her ability to comprehend the bill's text.

Published on September 29th at 2:49 PM CT :: 9 Comments

The Bailout Bill: First Impressions

I've traversed through page 76 of the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008," and have learned relatively little about how the actual bill will effect the current economic situation. The text is very dense and appears to be written by multiple parties, comprehension suffers as a result of both. I am by no means an expert on legislation, so for now I'd like to focus on the political impact rather than the substance.

After McCain's galactic stunt last week he's politically obligated to vote for whatever bill arrives on the Senate floor; and the Democratic leadership knows this. There are two paths this bill can go down, neither road is good for McCain. If the Democrats play their cards right they can turn McCain's opportunism into a disaster. I'll start by arbitrarily assuming the Democratic leadership supports the bill's content.

If the Democrats want the bill to pass, the bill will pass. Under this pretense we can assume that the bill leans left and would likely be supported, at least ideologically by Obama. We already know that McCain has to vote for the bill which leaves Obama in an interesting situation. If the vote follows party lines and McCain supports the bill, Obama's vote is not essential for passage. Using the fact that most American's do not support a financial bailout of Wall Street, Obama could publicly denounce the bailout while pinning the final result on McCain. This brilliant tactic would play extremely well among independents and may create dissonance amongst McCain's base.

The second path includes some theatrics by the Democratic leadership, perhaps they are faking their support. If they force the bill to the House floor knowing they have the votes to kill it, the Senate vote is simply irrelevant. It would take at least another week to sort through additional agreements causing the economic cloud to loom over the presidential race for yet another week. If the vote doesn't matter in the Senate Obama can do whatever he wants, he can vote for it, he can vote against, he doesn't even have to take a position. If the bill falters in the House, McCain will be held responsible for the failed compromise. A stalled bailout falls directly into Obama's narrative. The issue dominates until the VP debate, forcing Palin to answer economic questions; something she knows nothing about. If the topic is the economy and Palin cannot pull through, John McCain's campaign is over.

I really don't see both sides mutually agreeing to the resolution, but tomorrow's polls may dictate what route the bill follows; if Obama gets a huge boost from the debate, the bill will likely pass, if not the Democrats will try and further damage McCain's stock, whatever form that takes.

The House vote is scheduled for Monday, and the Senate's on Wednesday. I hope to have some additional commentary on the bill's content tomorrow.

Published on September 28th at 10:55 PM CT :: 4 Comments

Poll Update (9/28)

I was struggling to come up with a topic for discussion so I went back into our archives and compiled a list our best, timeless articles.

In the The Red November I discussed the historic implications governing the color red. Since 1972, perhaps earlier, only two presidential tickets have been elected in which red did not appear in their campaign sign.

With John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin the Republicans tried to paint Obama as a grossly under experienced and therefore under qualified candidate; the Constitution actually lists the Qualifications of a President.

A few months back I compiled a fairly limited Senate ranking system using the average number of cosponsors needed for a bill to become law. I included all first term Republican Senators up for reelection with a few others for comparison. Our analysis revealed that Elizabeth Dole is a Senate Parasite.

One day while watching CSPAN-2 I heard a peculiar quote, so I researched its significance. The quote by Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) led me to conclude that the Senate Republicans had set the filibuster record as far back as June.

Now onto the polls:

California (55)Public Policy Institute of California9/16/2008504010
Connecticut (7)SurveyUSA9/25/200854388
Kentucky (8)Mason-Dixon9/25/200841536
Tennessee (11)Mason-Dixon9/24/200839556

Nothing significant happened in the polling world today, but tomorrow should reveal how Americans perceived the debate. Today's national tracking polls all seemed to illustrate a bounce for Obama with the inclusion of the new Saturday sample. If the trackers tomorrow show a further increase for Obama it's safe to say that Obama clearly won the first debate, and likely the election. If McCain's numbers surge it could mean any number of things; perhaps it was a bad sample, perhaps McCain's debate content took a while to set in, or perhaps people are linking the bailout progress to McCain's Campaign suspension (McCain was not on Capital Hill). In any case tomorrow's polls hold the key.

The text of the bailout bill has been posted at https://financialservices.house.gov/. The site is getting pounded, they probably should have set aside 10k for a server upgrade.

Published on September 28th at 4:40 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Embeddable Content

With the addition of our new server came the influx of unusable bandwidth. This is a good problem, and I have an excellent solution. I've complied our collection of dynamic images into embeddable code that you can insert into your site or blog. Simply copy and paste the desired code and you're good to go. The images are dynamically updated when our prediction changes so you only have to add the code once. The Silverlight code features a fall through detection mechanism that will at a minimum display the static image, if Silverlight is installed on the visitor's computer the interactive version will be rendered; for this reason I recommend using the Silverlight code.

For our first time visitors, here's what our map looks like:

VoteForAmerica.net Electoral Projection Map

Main Content Map (490 x 350 Pixels):

HTML Code:

<a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map" alt="VoteForAmerica.net Electoral Projection Map" border="0" /></a>

Forum Code:


Embeddable Silverlight Code:

<div><object data="data:application/x-silverlight," type="application/x-silverlight-2-b2" width="100%" height="142"><param name="source" value="http://voteforamerica.net/VfA_Map_Small.xap"/><a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map_Small" width="200" height="142" border="0" alt=""></a></object><iframe style='visibility:hidden;height:0;width:0;border:0px'></iframe></div>

Side Panel Map (200 x 142 Pixels):

HTML Code:

<a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map_Small" alt="VoteForAmerica.net Small Electoral Projection Map" border="0" /></a>

Forum Code:


Embeddable Silverlight Code:

<div><object data="data:application/x-silverlight," type="application/x-silverlight-2-b2" width="100%" height="350"><param name="source" value="http://voteforamerica.net/VfA_Map.xap"/><a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx?Type=Map" width="490" height="350" border="0" alt=""></a></object><iframe style='visibility:hidden;height:0;width:0;border:0px'></iframe></div>

Printable Maps:

Our software can scale the map to larger and smaller sizes. I did some math and figured out the scaling coefficient required to create 8.5 x 11 inch printouts. Print 'em out, hang on your dorm door or cubicle or whatever. Each of these images will take a while to load, so please be patient.

Printable National Map (8.5 x 11 inches, 72 dpi)

High Resolution Printable National Map (8.5 x 11 inches, 300 dpi)

Electoral Scoreboard (200 x 80 Pixels):

Electoral ScoreboardOur last image is a forgotten relic. Before the ambitious creation of the lovely map you see above, this image was used in its place. While lacking in excitement, this image proudly served its purpose. Now replaced, the code remains, and so I figured I should share it.

HTML Code:

<a href="http://voteforamerica.net/electoral.aspx"><img src="http://voteforamerica.net/image.aspx" alt="VoteForAmerica.net Electoral Scoreboard" border="0" /></a>

Forum Code:


Published on September 28th at 12:52 AM CT :: 1 Comment

Poll Update (9/27)

These polls mean nothing in the context of today, but they verify the pre-debate mindset:

California (55)SurveyUSA9/24/200853434
Colorado (9)American Research Group9/25/200845487
Florida (27)American Research Group9/25/200847467
Iowa (7)Rasmussen Reports9/25/200851436
Louisiana (9)Rasmussen Reports9/25/200840555
South Carolina (8)Research 2000, DailyKos (D)9/24/200839547
Wyoming (3)Research 2000, DailyKos (D)9/24/200836577

Thinking back to Presidential Debates past, the 1960 showdown between Kennedy and Nixon comes to mind. The 2008 version featured John McCain playing the part of the agitated, somewhat distressed Richard Nixon and Barack Obama featuring the refined control of John F. Kennedy. Following the classic story line of the '60 debate many people who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon won, while those who watched on TV thought Kennedy pulled ahead; overall it was very close. I think the same could be said of the first debate of the 2008 race.

Watching the punditry afterward (on all three networks, CNN, FOX, MSNBC) revealed a curious evolution. Many pundits initially gave McCain a slight victory on the content, but were reluctant to declare him the outright victor. I think many viewers initially thought the same. Of the completely undecided voters I talked to, they all seemed to be disappointed by the debate. They felt that neither candidate actually answered the questions. I wouldn't agree with this assessment, but I'm not an undecided voter. As the night progressed the commentary seemed to slowly turn on McCain. The focus quickly turned to John McCain's body language and perceived dissatisfaction. For much of the debate McCain was hunched over and rigid refusing to even look at Barack Obama.

If McCain is positioning himself as the national security, "I looked Putin in the eye" candidate why did he never look at Obama? I have no idea, but it was definitely noticeable; noticeable in the same way as Nixon's five o'clock shadow and profuse sweating. McCain may have won on content, but those voters who are still undecided don't vote on content, they vote on perception. I think these perception voters will see an inherent flaw in McCain's performance that should not substantively matter. The debate is both a discussion and performance; McCain may have been superior at the discussion but Obama's performance highlighted the night and will likely resonant with undecideds.

Published on September 27th at 7:26 PM CT :: 2 Comments

It's "Barrack Abeam" According to AP

I was reading about the new spending bill that the Senate just passed on MSNBC.com and noticed an error. The article published by the Associated Press refers to Barack Obama as "Barrack Abeam," have a look:

Barrack Abeam

Source: MSNBC.com

It would appear that somebody hurriedly pressed the "Change All" button on spell check instead of actually proofreading their work. This error serves as yet another indication of the Associated Press' diminishing legacy.

Published on September 27th at 3:34 PM CT :: 1 Comment

The Debate: Live Analysis

8:22 CT: John McCain just referenced his support for the destruction of Ethanol. Is he aware that his support is dropping in Missouri? Does McCain realize that he may be able to compete in Minnesota, perhaps Wisconsin maybe even Iowa. Not anymore. Any farmer on the fence just jumped off the McCain train.

8:32 CT: John wants a spending freeze on everything but Veteran Affairs, National Security and other important problems. That's a lot like saying we should only spend money on what matters. The USA should be doing that anyway. What about Health care? McCain seemed pretty concerned about Ted Kennedy in his intro, even though Ted's at home and fine (although he was hospitalized earlier due to the side effect of his cancer medication), maybe McCain should put his money where is mouth is and support universal health care if hes going to play the sympathy card.

8:34 CT: What a segue, right into health care. John McCain said, "Obama's plan would make health care part of the Federal Government." John, that's the idea. People pay their taxes, Obama is arguing that health care is a fundamental right of all citizens, thus it should be part of the Federal Government.

8:39 CT: How many times is John McCain going to say "I was not elected Ms. Congeniality of the United States Senate?" That is correct John, you were elected as a Senator.

8:46 CT: If the USA wasn't in Iraq would the Administration care if there was sectarian violence? My guess is no, because they clearly don't care about the violence in Sudan or Burma.

8:47 CT: Obama just attributed numerous Bush quotes to McCain; McCain didn't fight back. Instead he went into story time about how he toured an Iraqi market in a flack jacket.

8:55 CT: McCain just indirectly compared Iraq to Afghanistan saying we don't need more troops, we need a diplomatic solution. Sounds an awful lot like Obama's stance on the surge.

8:58 CT: John McCain has taken a magical ride back to 1983 in which he opposed the Lebanon incident position of Ronald Reagan. He then jumped forward to the First Gulf War. I think he might be forgetting something: Keating Five.

8:59 CT: "I will wear this bracelet with honor," John McCain says of a bracelet he is not wearing. Maybe he should have planned ahead, to bad he was to busy disrupting the financial fix.

9:01 CT: "I have a bracelet too," Barack Obama responds, "its from a mother who doesn't want another son to die."

9:02 CT: Obama just challenged McCain on national security. "You don't muddle through the central front on terror."

9:04 CT: If Gen. Petraeus predicts we will lose Iraq, why is he in command, that just doesn't make since John.

9:04 CT: The League of Democracies? I think there is already something like that: The United Nations.

9:08 CT: Here comes the "without preconditions" rebuttal. Does talking equate to legitimization? Last time I checked nobody legitimately died at a discussion.

9:11 CT: I consider the Iran meeting issue over. McCain has no ground to stand on. Henry Kissinger doomed his arguement, amongst other strong points. Obama then played the "you don't know where Spain is" card.

9:14 CT: "Its dangerous [to meet without preconditions]... its just dangerous," really John, why? He cannot come up with a decent arguement.

9:18 CT: Obama can pronounce all the weird foreign names and countries while McCain struggles to pronounce "Ahmadinejad."

9:19 CT: Where is McCain going with this, he just listed every country that used to be a Soviet satellite.

9:25 CT: Obama just pivoted away from the Russia issue into alternative energy; he then dropped a "McCain voted against alternative energy 23 times." John claims that off shore drilling is a "bridge to the future."

9:26 CT: McCain blinked on the, "will there be another 9/11." He should have just said no.

9:28 CT: McCain: "I know our allies, I can work more closely with them." I know our allies too: Germany, England, Canada, etc. You can look it up on Wikipedia.

9:30 CT: Obama got the first word, will McCain get the last?

9:31 CT: SDI, never happened John. They made that corny "Star Wars" video and it died; mainly because it was never proven.

9:33 CT: Obama looking to end on the economy.

9:35 CT: McCain goes back to his experience, tries to link Obama to Bush? Don't really understand this approach.

9:35 CT: John McCain "I will take care of [veterans], that will be my job." That job gets a lot easier by not fighting wars that produce veterans, or American casualties.

9:37 CT: McCain ends by stating that Vietnam Veterans were not treated properly.

Published on September 26th at 8:16 PM CT :: 13 Comments

Poll Update (9/26)

If you tried to visit earlier, hopefully you received an "Upgrading Server" message, if not you were likely treated to a cryptic error page. In either case the hosting problem should be resolved, and if not I simply have no money to do anything about it. I'm confident that our current capabilities will allow for persistent and speedy service.

On to the polls:

Florida (27)Rasmussen Reports9/24/200847485
Missouri (11)SurveyUSA9/24/200846486
Missouri (11)Research 2000, Post-Dispatch9/24/200846477
Montana (3)SurveyUSA9/24/200839529
Oregon (7)Research 2000, DailyKos (D)9/24/200853398
Virginia (13)Rasmussen Reports9/25/200850455

Today brought comparatively few polls, but the collection is very telling. Obama seems to have solidified his lead in Virginia where he's led in four of the last six polls since the 20th of September. Our model now places Virginia in the Lean Dem category for the first time. Virginia's southern neighbor North Carolina may be heading that way too. For now North Carolina still remains very close, with a slight lead to Obama, but NC seems to be trending in Obama's direction. In fact all states seem to be trending in Obama's direction, but that could all change with tonight's debate.

Tonight the first presidential debate of the campaign can be seen at 9 PM ET (8 CT, 6 PT) on any major news network.

Published on September 26th at 7:00 PM CT :: 2 Comments

The 700 Billion Dollar Concession

I haven't read the plan, I don't know how the financing works and I don't know who is getting the money. But I'm definitely not going to see a cent of the 700 billion dollars currently up for grabs. Sure I'll be indirectly affected, but I'll get nowhere near the $2,333.33 that I would if the bailout money were just evenly distributed to the 300,000,000 residents of the USA. The notion of spending such a large sum of money on bolstering America's failing enterprises mystifies me. It seems almost un-American. The can-do doctrine of America, where if someone cannot do it right somebody else can and will seems to be getting a raw deal. The bailout would essentially reverse the defining principle of American economics while setting a terrible precedent. A healthy economy does not rely on an attempt, it thrives on success; where success is rewarded and failure punished.

The Democratic Party has long stood for stringent regulations in the economic realm while the Republican dogma preaches deregulation. Each approach has its advantages, but they both fail when combined; as evidenced by the current state of affairs. Over the last seven years the markets have moved toward the deregulation side of the spectrum, which is fine, remember when the Dow hit 14,000? But when things take a turn for the worst, sudden regulation cannot be a knight in shining armor. The deregulation approach is reactive; it forces markets to adjust after an error has been made, while regulation tends to be proactive attempting to prevent any errors from ever being made. There are obvious problems with both, but choosing both and forgetting about the downfalls of each is not the solution.

The entire Republican constituency seems to struggle with the true concept of deregulation. They stand by it when it's great, but they fail to stand by it when it falters. It's like crossing a major highway on foot when one direction is closed. The Republican leadership seems content to run to the middle (crossing the closed side), stop and then call a taxi to pick them up. They can handle the easy part, but when the going gets tough, they can't handle the possibility of getting hit by a bus. In reaching their objective (by way of taxi) they lose sight of what the original objective was, crossing the highway on foot, or to complete the analogy; letting the markets regulate themselves and actually following through on this premise.

The canonical example of such deregulation neglect comes from John McCain himself. During the initial drop he declared that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" before back tracking and discussing the potential of another great depression. Sarah Palin did the same thing. They each need to step up to the plate (along with the rest of their party) and take a position. Changing where they stand on the markets doesn't help the markets in anyway; as evidenced by the current dilemma. If the Republicans were so committed to the free market principles they would have no problem walking away from Lehman Bros, Fannie May, and Freddie Mac. But for some reason they can't. They cannot follow their doctrine to its logical conclusion because they risk alienating themselves. They are so financially invested in these large companies who took advantage of deregulation, that in protecting the companies they can protect themselves. The very fact that such a widespread crisis occurred highlights the fact that those in control did not put country first, John McCain among them. You can either be for deregulation or your against it, but walking on the fence is counterproductive to both standpoints.

Published on September 25th at 10:11 AM CT :: 3 Comments

Poll Update (9/25)

If McCain thought the polls were rough yesterday, I can't wait to see what he does today:

Arkansas (6)Rasmussen Reports9/22/200842517
Delaware (3)SurveyUSA9/23/200857376
Maine (4)SurveyUSA9/23/200849447
Maryland (10)Rasmussen Reports9/20/200860373
Massachusetts (12)SurveyUSA9/23/200855396
Massachusetts (12)Rasmussen Reports9/23/200858384
Michigan (17)Strategic Vision (R)9/24/200848457
Michigan (17)Detroit Free Press9/24/2008513811
Michigan (17)NBC News, Mason Dixon9/23/200846468
Michigan (17)Allstate, National Journal9/22/2008473914
Michigan (17)EPIC-MRA9/22/2008483814
National (538)CBS News, New York Times9/24/2008474211
National (538)Democracy Corps (D) 9/24/200847449
National (538)LA Times, Bloomberg9/22/200849456
National (538)Franklin & Marshall College9/21/200845478
New Hampshire (4)Suffolk University, 7News9/24/200846459
New Hampshire (4)Strategic Vision (R)9/24/200846459
New Hampshire (4)Allstate, National Journal9/22/2008444313
New York (31)SurveyUSA9/24/200857385
North Carolina (15)Rasmussen Reports9/23/200849474
Ohio (20)Rasmussen Reports9/24/200846477
Oregon (7)SurveyUSA9/23/200852417
Pennsylvania (21)Rasmussen Reports9/24/200849456
Pennsylvania (21)SurveyUSA9/24/200850446
Pennsylvania (21)Allstate, National Journal9/22/2008434116
West Virginia (5)Rasmussen Reports9/24/200842508
Wisconsin (10)Research 2000, WISC-TV9/23/200849438

I hope to upgrade the server, again, later tonight. More later...

Published on September 25th at 10:11 AM CT :: 7 Comments

Does McCain Know What He Did?

As a legitimate contender for the Presidency of the United States there are really only two things that you need to avoid; (a) don't do anything stupid (see Dukakis) , and (b) don't get worked in the debates. McCain managed to defy the two cardinal rules of presidential campaigns in a single idiotic swoop. He suspended his campaign and called for the first debate this Friday to be postponed. The Commission on Presidential Debates already denied his request.

John McCain's already failed attempt to transcend politics will ultimately seal his fate as the typical politician which he so greatly seeks to overcome. John didn't even beat Barack to the "above politics" message. Obama contacted the McCain campaign earlier in the day regarding the potential of a joint message targeting the need for an economic remedy. The McCain campaign cooperated, before dropping their bombshell.

This latest gimmick is squarely aimed at perception voters; those voters who do not think, but rather feel who is the better candidate. There are plenty of these voters out there, but they are not a pivotal demographic. Anybody who falls for this ploy clearly would have voted for McCain anyway. There is no logical way to perceive McCain's actions today as strength or any other positive attribute. The McCain campaign mortgaged their future to secure a voting bloc they had already secured.

The Presidential Debates are a sacred endeavor, journeyed upon just once every four years. The campaign, for many people starts the day of the first debate. These late bloomers span all demographic sets. On a good night a candidate will introduce themselves to these voters just tuning in. Obama already appears to have the upper hand, he will actually prepare for the debates. The problem for John McCain remains in his expectations. How will these first time viewers perceive his lack of preparation for the debate? Will they even care that he was spending his time on the bailout, will they even know? My guess is that many people who are just tuning in will be largely unaware of this current storyline come Friday, but even if they are, I don't inherently think McCain's stunt shifts the scales in his direction. Recent polls have shown between an 8-12% lead for Obama on the issue of handling the economy; McCain is simply trying to keep pace on the issue, although with great difficulty.

A new SurveyUSA Poll taken today in response to McCain's antics show that just 10% of all respondents think the debate should be postponed. Either McCain is viciously targeting those 10% or he made the biggest blunder in presidential election history and has yet to realize it. While on the polling front I'll target the "nothing has changed in the past 48 hours but polling" meme. McCain's numbers actually increased in our model from two days ago. On the 22nd McCain was trailing 302-236, today he moved into a 269-269 tie. The polls actually contribute to the "McCain should not have done this" arguement because they actually swung in McCain's direction. As of right now there is no substantive argument to support McCain's decision to suspend his campaign.

For weeks I've contended that the first debate will polarize support for each candidate; independents will pick a side and stay there. Too much is at stake in the first debate to pull such an extraordinary political stunt, it's unprecedented. But I guess if you think your back's to the wall, you change your strategy; and based on today's strategy change, they must be right up against the wall.

Published on September 25th at 2:09 AM CT :: 5 Comments

Poll Update (9/24): Its a Tie

FOX News is reporting: "John McCain announced that he will suspend his presidential campaign on Thursday to return to Washington to help with Wall Street bailout negotiations....The Arizona senator also asked the Presidential Debate Commission to postpone Friday's scheduled debate." This will hopefully be the first and only time I ever cite FOX News. I think John has some ulterior motives with this announcement as evidenced by FOX News' eagerness to release the announcement. I plan on writing a full article on the issue later.

At least three more polls should be released, two by Rasmussen in Colorado and Alabama and one by CNN in New Hampshire. Those polls have now been added, here's where it stands:

Alabama (9)Rasmussen Reports9/22/200839601
Colorado (9)InsiderAdvantage9/23/200850419
Colorado (9)Time, CNN9/23/200849456
Colorado (9)Rasmussen Reports9/22/200850473
Florida (27)Strategic Vision (R)9/23/200845487
Hawaii (4)Rasmussen Reports9/23/200868275
Iowa (7)Marist College9/21/200851418
Kansas (6)SurveyUSA9/22/200841536
Michigan (17)Time, CNN9/23/200849438
Michigan (17)Market Research Group of Lansing9/20/2008434611
Montana (3)Time, CNN9/23/2008404911
National (538)FOX News, Opinion Dynamics9/23/2008453916
National (538)ABC News, Washington Post9/22/200852435
National (538)Ipsos9/22/2008444313
National (538)NBC News, Wall Street Journal9/22/200848466
Nevada (5)Project New West (D)9/19/200847458
New Hampshire (4)Rasmussen Reports9/23/200847494
New Hampshire (4)Marist College9/21/200851454
Pennsylvania (21)Time, CNN9/23/200851436
Pennsylvania (21)Strategic Vision (R)9/23/200847467
South Carolina (8)SurveyUSA9/22/200839583
Virginia (13)NBC News, Mason Dixon9/22/200844479
Washington (11)SurveyUSA9/22/200854433
West Virginia (5)Time, CNN9/23/200844497

Today brings the tie scenario I talked about yesterday. Obama has almost a 48% chance of obtaining at least a tie based on today's numbers. There was what appears to be a rogue poll released by Market Research Group of Lansing, I've never heard of this pollster and they released very little information about their poll. I' feel obligated to add it to the registry to quell partisan bickering. I should also note that this is the first poll since May 27th to show John McCain with any lead in Michigan. Washington and Colorado, yes Colorado are now dark blue and in the Safe Dem categorization based on our model. Washington seems like it should be there, but Colorado may have some fight left for McCain.

If you look at the map, three of the most crucial Senate races reside in either Toss Up or Lean states. Coleman (R*) vs Franken (D) in Minnesota, Dole (R*) vs Hagan (D) in North Carolina and Sununu (R*) vs. Shaheen (D) in New Hampshire. You have to wonder if these states stay competitive on both the presidential side and the senate side if that doesn't favor the Democrats who are polling about 3-6% better on generic ballots. I think many undecideds will pair their vote along party lines in these states using the information they know about one candidate to make a decision about the other. These senate races could very well decide the presidential election.

Published on September 24th at 3:02 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Poll Update (9/23)

I have numerous observations regarding today's polls:

Alabama (9)SurveyUSA9/17/200834642
Arkansas (6)American Research Group9/22/200841536
California (55)Rasmussen Reports9/22/200856395
Colorado (9)Public Policy Polling (D)9/21/200851445
Colorado (9)Quinnipiac University9/21/200849456
Florida (27)NBC News, Mason Dixon9/18/200847458
Kansas (6)Rasmussen Reports9/18/200838584
Kentucky (8)SurveyUSA9/22/200838575
Massachusetts (12)American Research Group9/22/200855396
Michigan (17)Quinnipiac University9/21/200848448
Minnesota (10)Quinnipiac University9/21/200847458
National (538)American Research Group9/22/200848466
North Carolina (15)Civitas Institute (R)9/20/2008454510
Ohio (20)InsiderAdvantage9/22/200846468
Oregon (7)American Research Group9/22/200852417
Pennsylvania (21)American Research Group9/22/200850464
Vermont (3)American Research Group9/22/200856386
Wisconsin (10)Quinnipiac University9/21/200849429

First, starting off with an actual look at the polls, none of them (so far) show any support for John McCain. Arkansas is an exception but who cares in this election. After I post the poll I always go and check the map to make sure nothing terrible happened; today the map went from purple to blue. Every Kerry state is some shade of blue with Minnesota and New Hampshire being the outliers. Colorado, New Mexico and Iowa are also blue. John McCain's in trouble if his best chance of stealing a Kerry state (not New Hampshire) is Minnesota because I just don't see it happening.

Second, on the front page where the candidate boxes are I've added a scenario probability. What this does is take the current projection and the flipping point calculations for each state and does a simple statistical computation. Here's a simple example: lets say candidate A is winning two states, X and Y. X has a flipping point of 35.79 and Y has a flipping point of 67.56. Last election B's party won X, Y (so the percents just represent the probability that A will win X and Y) the math is simple; you simple multiply the two percents. The probability of A winning X and Y is .3579 * .6756 = 24.17%. Today's (current) scenario probability is 34.94% for Obama (which is enormous, more on that later) and McCain's is 13.44%. You may wonder why these numbers don't add up to 100. Its simple, our model takes all the information and calculates the most likely scenario based on polling. This literally leaves thousands of possibilities (although less likely possibilities) remaining. So given the most likely scenario Obama has a 34.94% chance of winning. If I were to include all electoral combination's the percentages would more closely represent 100%. I'm working on a full permutations calculation, but I'm running into excessive processing times.

Lastly, today brought the legitimate possibility of a 269, 269 tie. Obama appears to have a lock on all the Kerry States (except MN and NH) + Iowa + Colorado + New Mexico. We'll just assume he also wins Minnesota, although its currently a Toss Up. If this scenario plays out its a tie and it goes to the House where each state delegation has one vote, 26 votes are needed for victory in this scenario. Currently Obama leads in Virginia, but that state could go either way come November 4th. Getting back to Obama's 34.95% scenario probability today; Virginia is the state holding this number so low. If Virginia is just arbitrarily placed in McCain's column Obama's scenario probability rockets to 47.63% while McCain's actually drops to 13.43%. What does this mean? Obama currently has a baseline winning percentage of 47.63% percent assuming the House votes in his favor (which is likely).

Published on September 23rd at 11:01 AM CT :: 1 Comment

Poll Update (9/22)

Even though I just upgraded the server, an issue still persists. If you receive the ominous "Service Unavailable" page, trying waiting ten seconds and refreshing. This is caused by a perfect storm of traffic (not so much quantity, but rather the right combination) that causes the memory buffer to overflow and reset server; the new server is much faster but has less memory. I'm currently working on a fix, but it may take a few days.

Today's polls, so far:

Florida (27)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/21/200846513
Georgia (15)American Research Group9/21/200839574
Michigan (17)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/21/200851445
Minnesota (10)Rasmussen Reports9/18/200852444
National (538)CNN, Opinion Research Corp.9/21/200848457
Nevada (5)Suffolk University9/21/200845469
New Hampshire (4)University of New Hampshire9/21/200845478
New Jersey (15)American Research Group9/21/200851427
New Mexico (5)Public Policy Polling (D)9/19/200853425
North Carolina (15)Rasmussen Reports9/18/200847503
Ohio (20)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/21/200846504
Pennsylvania (21)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/21/200848457
Pennsylvania (21)Rasmussen Reports9/21/200848457
Pennsylvania (21)NBC News, Mason Dixon9/18/2008464410
South Dakota (3)American Research Group9/21/200839556
Virginia (13)SurveyUSA9/21/200851454
Virginia (13)ABC News, Washington Post9/21/200849465
Virginia (13)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/21/200848502
Wisconsin (10)American Research Group9/21/200850455

If the election were held today John McCain would lose, and lose handily. John appears to have lost his grasp in Virginia based on the most recent SurveyUSA poll, and has relinquished any hope of competing in Minnesota if the new Rasmussen poll is accurate. Wisconsin also seems to be moving in Obama's direction, while Nevada and North Carolina remain essentially tied. None of this is good for the McCain contingent.

Pennsylvania is still within striking distance for McCain, although he has never lead. McCain will need something major to happen in the next ten days or the bandwagon effect will start to kick in. I feel the debate is his last best shot at competing, but can he even compete in the debate?

Published on September 22nd at 2:26 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Youth Vote: The Draft in Your Future?

This will be the first installment in the Youth Vote series.

On July 7, 1971 the twenty-sixth amendment was certified by the Administrator of General Services granting anybody aged eighteen or older the right to vote. The amendment was proposed by Senator Jennings Randolph (D) of West Virginia in response to procedures within the Selective Service Draft of 1969. Anybody aged eighteen or older could be drafted and fight America's War, but they could not vote. The amendment was ratified by thirty-nine states (eventually forty-two) making Randolph's amendment law.

The 1972 Presidential Election marked the first and largest participation by voters aged 18-24 in history. Youth participation has declined since, but US involvement in foreign war seems to peek youth interest; the reason, conscription or the draft. Below is a graph detailing youth participation in past presidential elections:

Source: The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement

With the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the possibility of conscription remains. The most recent attempt (or perhaps more correctly, bluff) to reinstate the military draft occurred in 2003 when Representative Charles Rangle (D) of New York proposed House Resolution 163, this version offered no deferments of any kind once over the age of twenty. The bill was never written for serious consideration but rather as a protest to the currently ongoing war. Rangel issued another similar resolution in 2007 (HR 393) that called upon "all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service." Representative Rangel issued the follow statements on the introduction of HR 393:

"I don't expect my bill to pass; my purpose in introducing this legislation is for it to serve as a constant reminder that we have lost 2,200 of the best, brightest and bravest Americans, have had thousands more maimed, and countless Iraqi citizens killed. As the President speaks of a national response involving the military option, military service should be a shared sacrifice. Right now the only people being asked to sacrifice in any way are those men and women who with limited options chose military service and now find themselves in harm's way in Iraq. A draft would ensure that every economic group would have to do their share, and not allow some to stay behind while other people's children do the fighting."

"The Republican Leadership responded to my first bill by procedurally preventing debate on the issues it raised; let us see how they try to avoid facing the question of shared sacrifice this time."

Source: House.gov

The Republican leadership has remained passive on conscription dating back to Nixon. In the 1968 Election Nixon promised to eliminate the draft, he did just the opposite. The lottery occurred days before his inauguration and the draft was extended two years to 1973 during his first term. After Vietnam ended the draft died. Today the Selective Service System remains in the event "the country should need it." The SSS has procedures in place if the draft where needed today.

Why does any of this matter? Simple, watch this video of John McCain:

While John McCain agrees with the establishment a of draft, Barack Obama is committed to ending the war in Iraq.

With the upcoming election between Barack Obama and John McCain the draft appears to be on the table. If you are between the age of 18-26 a draft will effect you. Make your voice heard by voting. Register to vote, and request an absentee ballot (Google Absentee Ballot and find your state's page) if you attend an out of state college or will not be able to vote in your legal state of residence.

Look for the presidential debate on September 26th to have at least one question pertaining to a draft. The facts show that when military service is an issue the youth vote shows up.

Published on September 21st at 5:07 PM CT :: 4 Comments

Does Bush Support McCain?

The market's melted, McCain's prospect wilted, and poor George forgot to leave the lights on. If your line of expertise has anything to do with finacials and you didn't see the drop coming, you need to find new work. Unfortunately for the American people Bush isn't going to do that. On the day the markets died Bush was nowhere to be found, but something else was happening, or more appropriately, was not happening. George W. Bush was not using the impending financial crisis for political advancement.

Or was he?

The Feds and Congress are hard at work this weekend trying to remedy the situation. There have been reports of a trillion dollar bailout to right the current doom, gloom and despair. I question the situation at large: if the government is so willing to write a blank check to bail out the financials, why couldn't they write an equally large check to bail out the autos? It doesn't make political sense, Michigan is a swing state, you write a check to General Motors and Michigan flips. But Bush knows the causality between helping the autos research alternative energy and a drop in his precious petroleum revenue. The issue transcends national politics, but not in a good way, in a personal way.

The life long oil man, W, couldn't justify helping his party, the banner under which he lead the country into the ground, at the cost of his own personal finances. Greed ruled the day in the Whitehouse and on Wall Street. It's politics as usual, nothing has changed, George did what was politically expedient, again, and the media didn't notice. Sound like the whole false intelligence in Iraq situation, it should.

At the end of the day George Bush doesn't support the country, he doesn't even support his party, he supports himself. John McCain just happens to be the next closest thing to supporting himself.

Published on September 21st at 8:04 AM CT :: 4 Comments

Poll Update (9/21)

Florida is close, closer than the McCain camp wants it to be. The Research 2000 poll from Florida shows Obama actually winning amongst seniors; this could mean one of two things. Either the sample is just terribly wrong, which seems to be the most likely (Research 2000 is usually a good pollster though) or senior reasoning has drastically changed following the market's freefall. This is a death omen for McCain if the demographic models are accurate.

The Alabama poll from the Press Register shows Obama getting crushed, but this is expected. Another item draws my attention, undecideds, all twenty three percent of them. Why have Alabamans not made up their mind in proportion to the rest of the country. My first inkling is race, as this appears to be a classic example of the Bradley effect, there is just no way around it.

Alabama (9)Press Register9/15/2008255223
California (55)American Research Group9/20/200853398
Florida (27)Research 2k, FL Times-Union9/18/200845469
Florida (27)Miami Herald, SP Times9/17/200845478
Iowa (7)American Research Group9/20/200851445
Iowa (7)Research 2k, Quad City Times9/17/200853398
Minnesota (10)American Research Group9/20/200848475
North Carolina (15)Public Policy Polling (D)9/19/200846468
Ohio (20)University of Cincinnati9/16/2008424810
Virginia (13)American Research Group9/20/200846486

Sarah Palin's coming out party appears to have been pushed back, yet again. The debate format for the VP debate will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees. The expectations game is being played, and Palin's bar has been lowered.

Published on September 21st at 7:51 AM CT :: 8 Comments

Poll Update (9/20)

Today brought two new polls from Michigan that seem to confirm what we already knew, Obama has a slight, but steady lead. The other poll of note took place in Missouri where Research 2000 and the Post-Dispatch showed McCain leading by just four. Missouri has time and time again presented an opportunity for Democrats (see New Jersey for Republicans), but they have repeatedly fallen short. This year presents a different dynamic however, McCain is limited to just 84 million (whereas Obama has opted out of Public Financing, and can spend whatever he raises), and if McCain is forced to use some of that money in a less crucial states, such as Missouri, it may very well cost him.

Connecticut (7)American Research Group9/19/200854397
Idaho (4)Research 2000, DailyKos (D)9/17/200833625
Illinois (21)Research 2000, Post-Dispatch9/18/200856368
Illinois (21)Rasmussen Reports9/17/200856404
Maryland (10)American Research Group9/19/200854397
Michigan (17)American Research Group9/19/200848466
Michigan (17)Detroit News9/17/2008444214
Missouri (11)Research 2000, Post-Dispatch9/18/200845496
North Dakota (3)Research 2000, DailyKos (D)9/17/200840537
South Carolina (8)Rasmussen Reports9/18/200845514
Tennessee (11)American Research Group9/19/200836595

I broke down and upgraded the server. I'm sure some of you have noticed the speed increase while others have not. It usually takes between 24 and 72 hours for the Domain Name Servers (DNS) to reflect the new hosting address. Everybody will still see the site, but for some it may be slower. These side effects should dissipate shortly leaving what is hopefully a more accessible experience.

Published on September 20th at 12:04 PM CT :: 17 Comments

Poll Update (9/19)

Obama has to be pleased with today's haul. Marsist College shows Obama with a lead in each of the big three, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. If you look at these three polls as a continuum and just assume they have a four point bias towards Obama, he still has a lead in Pennsylvania and Michigan. I'm not saying these polls report the defacto state of the race, but they certainly are interesting. There weren't nearly as many polls released today as in the past couple days, but still a decent catch:

Alabama (9)SurveyUSA9/17/200834642
Alaska (3)Research 2000, DailyKos (D)9/17/200838557
Indiana (11)Rasmussen Reports9/18/200847494
Indiana (11)American Research Group9/18/200844479
Iowa (7)SurveyUSA9/18/200854433
Kentucky (8)Research 2000, DailyKos (D)9/17/200837558
Maine (4)Rasmussen Reports9/17/200850464
Michigan (17)Marist College9/15/200852435
New Jersey (15)Strategic Vision (R)9/16/2008474310
North Carolina (15)Elon University9/16/2008354124
North Dakota (3)American Research Group9/18/200843525
Ohio (20)Marist College9/15/200847458
Oklahoma (7)American Research Group9/18/200834615
Pennsylvania (21)Marist College9/15/200849447
Washington (11)American Research Group9/18/200850446
Washington (11)Strategic Vision (R)9/16/2008474211

I'm thinking about switching to a different server, as I know the site has been dreadfully slow as of late, but I've also made some changes to the code that should drastically increase speeds. Before I shell out the dollars I want to get some feedback; is the site adequately fast or should I proceed with the server upgrade?

Published on September 19th at 5:23 PM CT :: 3 Comments

Their Possible Pasts

Each campaign sat in a conference room (or presumably something similar) some three or four weeks ago and mapped out their future campaign. Each advisor had "VP" circled somewhere on their memo pad; and each nominee had a VP in mind. But suppose for a second each candidate had a different perspective; could a different decision have entirely effected their nominee's standing in the last four weeks. What are their possible pasts?

Everybody is quick to point out that "if Obama had selected Hillary Clinton as his Vice President, the race would already be over;" I simply do not believe this. In fact I think entirely the opposite is true. Knowing what we know now, Hillary would have doomed the Democratic Party, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. McCain would have been forced to react, and would not have chosen Sarah Palin; I say this with 100% certainty. If you're running against the historic ticket you pick the slick white guy and hope to gain racist and sexist votes; that's the sad reality and I don't think the Republicans would have hesitated. Instead Obama's selection of Biden did no harm, the cardinal rule of VP selection. Ultimately I think Biden will do the most good, but that's not the point of this article.

John McCain likely chooses Mitt Romney (although, Pawlenty, Ridge or Liebermann would still have been options) to counteract the gravitas of the Obama-Clinton ticket; it's hard to predict, after all McCain did eventually chose Sarah Palin. I think Hillary Clinton is the only person for whom McCain doesn't choose Sarah Palin, with the possible exception of Kathleen Sebelius; but I don't think she was ever legitimately considered. Mitt Romney's strength is the economy and it just so happens that the economy is flying into a sharpened fan right now. McCain's possible past is much brighter with a Romney selection (and likely his future), especially after his disastrous week.

McCain likely would not have gotten such a large bounce in the polls had he chosen somebody other than Palin, but it clearly doesn't matter what the polls said at the beginning of September on November 5th. As of right now the only thing Palin has concretely provided McCain was a nice five percent boost in his polling numbers for what amounts to a week; the recent CBS poll shows McCain's support among women plummeting by 21%. Romney may or may not have provided a similar polling spike, but at least he would be useful with regards to the now diseased economy, after all that was Romney's main selling point.

If you take a look into the past and alter the VP permutations the scenario that actually happened appears to the best imaginable outcome for Obama and the worst possible for McCain. The McCain campaign fell into the trap of trying to pick what the central issue of the election would be; they guessed energy and fell flat on their face. Nobody cares how much gas costs because they have no money to buy anything. Most people have lost 10% of their portfolio in the past two days and the GOP ticket is offering no solutions to fix the already ailed economy.

The Obama campaign instead focused on the actual role of a Vice President and selected somebody who actually ran for the position twice. Joe Biden isn't an expert on the economy or energy by any stretch, but his central claim to knowledge is not the fact that he can see Russia, but rather his 35 years as a Senator. The Obama campaign took an entirely different approach to the selection that maximized their chances on any issue; they played the statistics. That I cannot say about the McCain campaign. I cannot conclude within any reasonable bounds of logic why Sarah Palin was selected. There are simply too many other, better possible pasts for John McCain.

The possible future will be theirs to command.

Published on September 18th at 12:08 AM CT :: 7 Comments

Poll Update (9/18)

This actually happened today: Sarah Palin proposed an online service that would allow ordinary citizens access to federal budget information, but its already been done; by Barack Obama. This enormous gaffe is getting no air time. It reveals two things about the McCain campaign; Sarah Palin (or the campaign) is incapable of fact checking, and they have no idea what Obama's record actually encompasses.

Onto the polls, a slew new polls, yet so little time.

Colorado (9)InsiderAdvantage9/17/200851418
Colorado (9)Allstate, National Journal9/15/2008454411
Connecticut (7)Rasmussen Reports9/16/200853416
Florida (27)SurveyUSA9/17/200845514
Florida (27)Allstate, National Journal9/15/2008444412
Florida (27)American Research Group9/15/200846468
Georgia (15)InsiderAdvantage9/17/200843516
Georgia (15)Rasmussen Reports9/16/200843543
Georgia (15)SurveyUSA9/16/200841572
Georgia (15)Public Opinion Strategies (R)9/11/200856359
Illinois (21)University of Wisconsin9/17/2008533710
Indiana (11)University of Wisconsin9/17/2008434710
Indiana (11)Selzer, Indianapolis Star9/16/200847449
Iowa (7)University of Wisconsin9/17/2008454510
Michigan (17)University of Wisconsin9/17/200848448
Minnesota (10)University of Wisconsin9/17/200847458
National (538)Quinnipiac University9/16/200849456
National (538)The Economist, YouGov (D)9/16/2008434512
National (538)Pew Research Center9/14/200846468
National (538)The Economist, YouGov (D)9/9/2008414019
Nebraska (5)American Research Group9/15/200834606
New Hampshire (4)American Research Group9/15/200845487
New Jersey (15)Rasmussen Reports9/16/200855423
New Mexico (5)Allstate, National Journal9/15/200849429
Ohio (20)University of Wisconsin9/17/200846459
Ohio (20)Allstate, National Journal9/15/2008414217
Oregon (7)Portland Tribune9/14/2008504010
Pennsylvania (21)University of Wisconsin9/17/2008454510
South Carolina (8)American Research Group9/15/200837594
Vermont (3)Rasmussen Reports9/13/200860364
Virginia (13)InsiderAdvantage9/17/200846486
Virginia (13)Allstate, National Journal9/15/2008414811
Wisconsin (10)University of Wisconsin9/17/2008454411

Our national projection now shows a very distinct convention ounce for McCain; unfortunately for him it seems to be over, at the same time Obama is surging.

Florida has shifted from a Toss Up to Weak Dem for the first time. Our model gives Obama a 84.3% chance of winning the state. A poll could come out in ten minutes and change that, but for now Florida appears to be Obama's. Turn's out that did happen. SurveyUSA released a new Florida poll, and pushed the state back into the Toss Up column.

Published on September 18th at 12:00 AM CT :: 0 Comments

Poll Update (9/17)

ARG released twenty-five polls today. The new addition did not change our model's output, McCain is still projected to win with 274 Electoral Votes. Of the massive haul by ARG there were really only 4 polls of interest. The Montana poll shows Obama behind just two, which is a large contrast to some other polling done in the same time frame. Ohio is again in the McCain column, but this time by six. Colorado and Nevada are still both very close.

I later added five polls from CNN/Time and our projection changed to Obama 291, McCain 247. The CNN poll showed Obama ahead in both Florida and Ohio, which is good news for the Obama camp.

There was even another swath of polls after our first update; Rasmussen released a few battle ground states, then CBS followed with a new national poll showing Obama with a 5 point lead.

There's also news that a group of hackers (they shouldn't really be referred to as "hackers" because some of the information they obtained is legally public record) broke into Sarah Palin's semi-personal yahoo email accounts and did some snooping. They handed over their haul to WikiLeaks, who has released the information. Their page is getting pounded right now.

Based on the information I've been able to access it does in fact appear that Sarah Palin used these yahoo addresses (gov.palin@yahoo.com and gov.sarah@yahoo.com) for work related matters; there were messages sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and another to her Chief of Staff. Mother Jones best sums up the situation: "Since then, the accounts have been deleted, which could be considered destruction of evidence if a court chose to pursue it." All we're left to wonder is what her password could have been; Ketchikan seems to be the front runner.

Alabama (9)American Research Group9/16/200836586
Alaska (3)American Research Group9/11/200836604
Arizona (10)American Research Group9/14/200839565
California (55)Field9/14/2008523612
Colorado (9)American Research Group9/13/2008444610
DC (3)American Research Group9/13/200882135
Delaware (3)American Research Group9/15/200851409
Florida (27)Time, CNN9/16/200848448
Hawaii (4)American Research Group9/12/200863325
Idaho (4)American Research Group9/10/200826686
Illinois (21)American Research Group9/16/200851454
Indiana (11)Time, CNN9/16/200843489
Kansas (6)American Research Group9/10/200831636
Kentucky (8)American Research Group9/12/200837576
Louisiana (9)American Research Group9/12/200843507
Maine (4)American Research Group9/10/200851418
Mississippi (6)American Research Group9/16/200839556
Missouri (11)American Research Group9/15/200845505
Montana (3)American Research Group9/9/200847494
National (538)CBS News, New York Times9/16/200849447
National (538)Ipsos9/15/2008454510
National (538)Reuters, Zogby9/13/200847458
Nevada (5)American Research Group9/14/200846495
New Mexico (5)SurveyUSA9/16/200852444
New Mexico (5)American Research Group9/16/200851445
New York (31)American Research Group9/16/200855387
North Carolina (15)Time, CNN9/16/200845469
North Carolina (15)American Research Group9/16/200841527
Ohio (20)Time, CNN9/16/2008464410
Ohio (20)American Research Group9/13/200844506
Oregon (7)Rasmussen Reports9/15/200851472
Rhode Island (4)American Research Group9/13/200859338
Rhode Island (4)Rasmussen Reports9/13/200858393
Texas (34)American Research Group9/16/200836577
Utah (5)American Research Group9/13/200829656
Vermont (3)Research 20009/14/200855369
Virginia (13)Christopher Newport University9/14/2008394813
Virginia (13)Public Policy Polling (D)9/14/200848466
West Virginia (5)American Research Group9/16/200845496
Wisconsin (10)Time, CNN9/16/200849456
Wisconsin (10)Rasmussen Reports9/13/200848466
Wyoming (3)American Research Group9/11/200828666

I finally got a DC poll. Up until now I had DC's values hard coded because there was no DC information, at all. The release today doesn't really change anything, because Obama's still up by like 70 instead of 80, but at least it makes my code cleaner.

A commenter pointed out that the CNN poll in Florida showed Obama and McCain tied at 48-48; this is true if you are looking at the one-on-one poll, but I've committed to using polls with third party candidates, if available. I'm watching Chris Mathews right now and he just showed the CNN poll in Florida tied at 48-48. A third party candidate changed the election in Florida in 2000 and the media isn't reporting a poll that includes third party candidates, it just doesn't make sense.

Published on September 17th at 9:33 AM CT :: 11 Comments

Poll Update (9/16)

If you're not polling New Jersey, you're not cool, or something like that. There have been five new polls in the Garden State since September 7th, but none seem to alter the previous model. Take a look at the New Jersey graph below.

The trend lines were largely unaffected by these most recent polls; it does however appear that Obama lost a point and McCain gained one, but that can likely be traced to McCain's convention bounce. The important item to consider is the cost of putting New Jersey in play. New Jersey shares its media market with New York (which is the most expensive media market) and is not worth the investment for McCain, especially with just 84 million to work with. If he were serious about putting New York and New Jersey in play, recent polls suggest that he has at least an opportunity of winning, but his money could be more wisely spent in other states. Look for New Jersey to remain solidly in Obama's court come election day. There was a also New York poll released after the initial writing of this article. It reaffirms my position on New York; McCain has no chance.

Ohio has been extensively polled and essentially all results since the conventions have shown McCain with a three or four point lead. McCain may have the lead at the moment, but as the money game and the economy creep into the field of play I think McCain's lead in Ohio will dissipate a little. The state will remain very close until the fourth.

National (538)American Research Group9/15/200845487
National (538)George Washington University9/11/200844488
National (538)The Economist, YouGov9/9/2008404119
New Jersey (15)Monmouth University, Gannett9/14/2008494110
New Jersey (15)Quinnipiac University9/14/200848457
New York (31)Rasmussen Reports9/15/200855423
Ohio (20)Public Policy Polling (D)9/14/200844488

The national polls continue to do weird things and it appears that the tracking polls are starting to regress back toward a tie. Today McCain led in two trackers by one, and was down by four in the other two. It appears as though his national bounce has ended. The pressing question then becomes, can he hold the slimmest of leads for the next forty-nine days?

Published on September 16th at 2:44 PM CT :: 9 Comments

Polling Methodology and Application

When I collect polls I attempt to classify them into three categories; non-partisan, partisan and the polls that are just not valid for whatever reason. I add all polls to the database, but not all polls are used in the calculations. Partisan polls, as their name implies were either commissioned directly for a certain candidate, or they are performed by a pollster with a known bias. The partisan polls are suffixed with a (D) or an (R) depending on the party affiliation. An invalid polls is essentially converted to a partisan poll (the algorithm only differentiates between non-partisan and partisan polls) with a (D) or an (R) arbitrarily assigned based on whatever criteria I choose, barring in mind that the classification of a (D) or an (R) makes no difference to the math behind the model. Occasionally a pollster will provide both a Likely Voter demographic and a Registered Voter demographic; when this choice presents itself the Likely Voter result is used. There are also occasions where a pollster will release a poll with separate results for a separate wording or phrasing of questions. In this situation I will average the results of each separate result, assuming of course that the separation is comparably equivalent. Pollsters sometimes release polls with "leaners" and without "leaners", I use the "leaner" result. Pollsters also may include third party candidates such as Bob Barr (L) in their poll; I use the result which includes the third party candidate when available, unless the third party candidate is not on the ballot for the given state.

When recording polls I use the end date of the poll's sampling window. I prefer the end date method to a median or start point because it is much easier to interpret end points on the graph than it is to try and extrapolate the meaning of the plot from a median or start point. The Local Regression method chronological arranges the polls based on their end date and discards elapsed time in between. For example if there are two polls, one with an end date of 6/20/08 and another with an end date of 8/15/08 they are treated merely as poll 1 and poll 2, the end dates have no significance other than to order the polls. I disavow dates for two reasons; I assume a poll is true until proven otherwise by another more recent poll, at which point the older poll receives a lower weight in the calculation. The second reason is directly due to processing time. I would ideally like to be able to do a range of influence for each poll and then the regression value for each day (instead of a regression value for each day in which a poll is released as is currently done), but that simply cannot be done in a reasonable amount of computing time while still maintaining the dynamic nature of the site.

Moving onto our state graphs. Non-partisan polls are represented on the graphs with a filled-in circle while partisan (and therefore invalid) polls are denoted by their empty centers. A blue circle corresponds to Obama, red for McCain, and a tie is denoted by purple. The thick colored lines are the results of the Local Regression algorithm and the dashed lighter lines are the variances. If there is a lot of fluctuation between successive polls, the variance will be larger, if all the polls tend to follow a similar path, the variance will be smaller. I wrote a nice PDF describing the entire Local Regression method. The arrows to the right of each candidate's name are currently meaningless, but will hopefully have a use fairly soon. The percentage in the parenthesis after the status (more on this later) corresponds to the flipping point calculation.

The colors used on the maps, tables and graphs are all based on the status of a given state. The status is defined in three step increments. A state where one candidate is within three points of another is defined to be a Toss Up; if Obama has between a three and six point lead the state is classified as Weak Dem, if McCain has a lead between six and nine its classified as Core Rep and if either candidate has larger than a nine point lead the state is Safe for the given party.

The entire site is dynamically created. What this means is that whenever I add a poll to the database all the maps, images and tables instantly reflect the new values. I try and update the "Poll Update" article for the given day whenever I add a new poll, but sometimes this isn't always possible. Luckily the "Latest Polls" side panel reads from the database so you can also be aware of what new polls are included in the calculations.

I also do not currently include tracking polls because they outweigh (by outnumbering) the other, more thoroughly conducted national polls. I plan on eventually adding a national tracking poll section that will be separate from the other national polls that are currently collected.

The entire mathematical procedure uses only polling data, demographic information is not taken into account; I leave that to the pollsters. The algorithm does have a known weakness however; it cannot predict abnormalities in voting patterns that may be the result of foul play.

Published on September 15th at 5:58 PM CT :: 0 Comments

Poll Update (9/15)

With the last batch of FOX News/Rasmussen polls, John McCain garners his first lead in quite some time, but a closer look at the contributing factors point to what will probably be short lived reign. Recent polling in Virginia has shown the race to be extremely close with possibly a slight lead for Obama, but our model thinks otherwise. The problem is a CNN/Time poll taken at the height of McCain's convention bounce on September 9th. There were no state polls released during or immediately after Obama's convention; the result is a skew in recent data toward McCain as exemplified in Virginia. Our projection will tend to favor McCain until a more sizable number of polls are released to block out the convention affect.

The Pennsylvania and New York results are outliers. If you look at the Pennsylvania graph its fairly easy to tell that the McCain has been consistently less than tied, in fact this is his highest recording ever in Pennsylvania. Combine the pollster (FOX News) and the terrible week McCain had this result just doesn't seem credible, but it gets added to the database none the less. The New York poll from Siena is meaningless. It came at the height of McCain's convention bounce and is his largest haul in New York since April 13th. McCain should disregard this result and stay away from the expensive New York media market with his 84 million.

I'll also go out on a limb here and say the 500 point drop in the DOW will not have a positive effect on McCain's number's in states like Pennsylvania or Ohio.

Colorado (9)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/14/200846486
Florida (27)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/14/200844497
New York (31)Siena9/10/2008464113
Ohio (20)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/14/200845487
Ohio (20)SurveyUSA9/14/200845496
Ohio (20)Suffolk University9/13/2008424612
Oregon (7)Moore Information (R)9/11/2008433720
Pennsylvania (21)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/14/200847476
Utah (5)Rasmussen Reports9/10/200832644
Virginia (13)FOX News, Rasmussen Reports9/14/200848484
Virginia (13)SurveyUSA9/14/200850464

I've also written a detailed procedure regarding how polls are selected, used and applied that anybody visiting this site should probably read.

Published on September 15th at 2:22 PM CT :: 16 Comments

Cindy McCain's Fallacious Rebuttal

In spite of what you see...in the newspapers, and on shows like The View--I don't know if any of you saw The View yesterday, they picked our bones clean--in spite of what you see, that's not what the American people are saying and what they are believing....They are now seeing a clear difference with these candidates, and they are seeing who is going to make the best president, and that's why we're pulling ahead.-- Cindy McCain

Source: CNN

Cindy's paradoxical rant on the media's sudden bias against her husband is one of the poorest pieces of persuasion I have ever seen. Period. In two sentences she manages to present two contradicting arguments that make no logical sense, and I literally mean no logical sense. I'm going to take a mathematical approach and destroy her logic. I'll start by looking at her first sentence. After I parse out her sixty-four references to The View and her repetition of "In spite of what you see" her statement essentially reads like this:

"People see things in newspapers and people driven TV shows but that's not reflective of what the American people are saying and what they are believing."

If I let the first portion that reads "People see things in newspapers and people driven TV shows" refer to the variable P and the second portion which reads "The American people are saying and what they are believing" as Q. The statement can then be mapped as follows:

P implies not Q:
"People see things in newspapers and people driven TV shows" which implies that "the American people are not saying [those same things] and that they are not believing them."

Here's where it gets wacky: using the idea of contrapostion the statement can be rewritten as Q implies the opposite of P and the statement should still be valid:

"The American people are saying [things] or they are believing [things]" implies that "people see [these same things] in newspapers and people driven TV shows."

Using a truth table for implication and going through the various possibilities for the previous statement we run into a fallacy. Cindy has worded her response so poorly that her argument essentially breaks down to "People can only believe things that are told to them by other people," which of course is not true. As an aside this perception seems to highlight the entire McCain campaign's strategy: "Vote for McCain because I tell you to."

Her second erroneous statement boils down to a classic AND (&) structure in which all fragments must be true for the statement to be true, (A & B & C = true means that A, B and C must all be true). The breakdown goes like this:

A = "[The American people] are now seeing a clear difference with these candidates"
B = "[The American people] are seeing who is going to make the best president"
C = "we're pulling ahead."

This should be much easier than the prior result because I only have to disprove one statement. I've already disproved B based on the result of Cindy's first point so I'm essentially done. The easy refutation to B reads as follows:

If "[The American people] are seeing who is going to make the best president" then the media should also see who is going to make the best president. We know the media does not think John McCain will be the best president because shows like The View and newspapers are sticking it to him, as Cindy pointed out earlier. Therefore B invalids Cindy's second statement and serves to highlight the point that the McCain entourage has yet to realize that American people are represented in the American media.

The common thread running through all of this discussion is that the entire McCain campaign is devoid of logical thought.

Update: I had a bad equivalence relation that was not sound (as a commenter pointed out), but it didn't affect my fundamental argument. The erroneous statement was meant to serve as a segue between the math and the exact wording; but my attempt to increase comprehension in effect decreased the quality of my logic. The error has been fixed and hopefully my argument is now mathematically valid.

Published on September 14th at 9:00 PM CT :: 42 Comments

Poll Update (9/14)

Yet another poll shows Minnesota within striking distance for McCain, but like Washington I just don't see it happening. The ultra competitive Senate race will further push already high turnout, likely favoring Obama. There was also a poll released in Iowa showing Obama with a 12 point lead; this result is likely the product of the severe flooding in Cedar Rapids and the US Government's poor response; the combination of the Iowa and Minnesota polls is peculiar because the neighboring states are demographically similar. I struggle to understand the mechanisms at work in the two most recent Minnesota polls. The collapse report for the Minnesota I35-W Bridge is due out a few weeks before the election and will have a great impact on both the Senate and Presidential races. The very release of the report will favor Obama as Governor Pawlenty was directly responsible for appointing Carol Molnau to oversee infrastructure, a job she clearly did not do well. People in the Twin Cities are furious about the bridge; any item in the report further linking the Republican Governor to the collapse will have dire consequences for McCain.

Delaware (3)Rasmussen Reports9/13/200855432
Iowa (7)Des Moines Register9/10/200852408
Minnesota (10)Star Tribune9/12/2008454510
New Jersey (15)Research 20009/11/200850419
Utah (5)Dan Jones9/11/2008246214
Washington (11)Elway Poll9/8/200845.53816

I finally found a source for the Elway poll. I took the two results and averaged them in the database.

Published on September 14th at 12:07 PM CT :: 26 Comments

Poll Update (9/13)

Just one poll so far, but its was worth posting. Rasmussen gives McCain a three point edge in Nevada, his best result ever in the state. They both increased their performance by a point over Rasmussen's previous Nevada poll. The national tracking polls are all out today and show very little change from yesterday. McCain gained a point in two polls, lost one in another and remained unchanged in the fourth while Obama held steady in three and lost a point in one. McCain's improvement can likely be traced to the inclusion of part one of Palin's ABC interview (clearly the best segment for the GOP) to the tracking polls' three day average. I'll update the table if additional polls are released.

Colorado (9)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200845.547.56
Florida (27)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200841.842.116
Michigan (17)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/20084943.38
Minnesota (10)SurveyUSA9/11/200849474
Missouri (11)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200842.448.510
Nevada (5)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200842.550.18
Nevada (5)Rasmussen Reports9/11/200846495
New Hampshire (4)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200842.849.18
New Mexico (5)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200845.644.110
North Carolina (15)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200848.146.65
Ohio (20)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200843.949.86
Pennsylvania (21)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200844.349.17
South Dakota (3)Rasmussen Reports9/9/200837549
Virginia (13)Zogby Interactive (D)9/12/200843.850.36

I don't really know why I wasted my time entering the Zogby Interactive polls. They have no basis for accuracy. I have also labeled them with a (D), not necessarily because they are partisan, but because anything internet based should favor Obama's youth centric support.

Obama's also out with two new ads (Real Change, Still) overtly calling out McCain on his recent campaign tactics.

Published on September 13rd at 12:46 PM CT :: 1 Comment

Poll Update (9/12)

To contrast with yesterday's large haul it appears many pollsters took the day off. There is nothing too eventful in today's numbers but there are some interesting trends that are emerging. The University of Cincinnati polled Ohio with what appears to be a fairly accurate sample; the results still suggest that Ohio could go either way. Rasmussen decided to do a useful poll today, after doing Wyoming and Idaho yesterday, in Missouri and Washington. The Missouri results show that Obama is steadily gaining ground and could very well force John McCain to throw some of his 84 million at the show me state.

Missouri (11)Rasmussen Reports9/11/200846513
National (538)Newsweek9/11/200846468
National (538)Associated Press-GfK9/10/200844488
National (538)Ipsos9/9/200845469
New Jersey (15)Marist9/8/200848457
Ohio (20)University of Cincinnati9/10/200844488
Oklahoma (7)Rasmussen Reports9/11/200832635
Oregon (7)Hoffman Research Group9/9/2008463915
Washington (11)Rasmussen Reports9/10/200849474

The Washington result is by far the most perplexing poll released today and perhaps confirms the trend established by SurveyUSA's most recent Washington result. The sample seems legitimate, nothing stands out as overtly improbable. Kerry won Washington by 7.18% in 2004 but our model seems to be predicting a much closer race. I just don't see the race being close in Washington; Seattle will carry the state regardless of what the GOP might seek to achieve.

The national polls are still showing a lot of volatility. Some give the edge to Obama, others McCain but the spread seems to be equally proportioned. The variation is most certainly caused by the wide sample space of the nation and interference caused by the recent conventions. I've never given much weight to national polls because it simply has no bearing on the electoral college; they are simply useful for demographic information, but even then their usefulness is debatable. Perhaps in a few days the national polls will fall back into a more reliable trend; only to be disturbed by the upcoming debates.

Published on September 12nd at 2:15 PM CT :: 2 Comments

The Red November

The current public sentiment clearly favors the democratic brand, but running blue could have dire consequences. In a previous article I looked at how the Minnesota Republican Party is exclusively using the color blue for their incumbent federal candidates up for reelection. Some pointed out that blue has almost always been the color of choice for campaign signs, and this appears to be true, at least as the primary color. My research revealed very little information about House and Senate signs, but I did stumble upon a wide assortment of past presidential signs dating back to 1964.

Sorting through the collection at 4President.org I stumbled upon a curious trend. Dating back to 1964 only four presidential nominees have ever ran a campaign in which their yard signs did not feature the color red; of these four tickets, only two were elected, Carter-Mondale (1976) and Reagan-Bush (1980). Interestingly the 1980 presidential election was devoid of the color red. That leaves just one loser, the McGovern-Shriver ticket of 1972.

1972: McGovern-Shriver (D) vs. Nixon-Agnew (R*)

1976: Carter-Mondale (D) vs. Ford-Dole (R*)

1980: Carter-Mondale (D*) vs. Reagan-Bush (R)

2008: Obama-Biden (D) vs. McCain-Palin (R)

A candidate with a blue sign, bearing no red has never defeated an opponent with a red, white and blue sign; this scenario has only occurred twice however. Still the statistics greatly favor the candidate who incorporates all of America's colors.

If we now look at the 2008 campaign signs it is apparent that Obama has a red, white and blue sign, while McCain's features blue, white and yellow. This year's race also marks the first time since 1960, possibly ever, in which a major party nominee has used yellow on their campaign sign. The meaning of yellow on McCain's sign is clearly meant to subliminally convey "support for the troops," of which McCain has clearly not supported [Source: 1, 2, 3]. If McCain was insistent on color messaging he perhaps could have sent a better message by using red instead. As it stands now, the odds are stacked against McCain.

Published on September 11st at 10:49 PM CT :: 9 Comments

Poll Update (9/11)

I was finally motivated (by the sheer number of new polls today) to patch together a mechanism to list all the polls added to the database on a given day. The table is color coded to reflect the result of each poll; the colors are segmented by three points. You might have noticed that some pollsters have an (R) or a (D) after them, this simply means that the pollster has a partisan affiliation and serves as a marker to eliminate them from the final electoral calculation. Today's polls are listed below:

Alabama (9)AEA, Capital Survey9/9/2008355510
Colorado (9)InsiderAdvantage9/10/200849465
Colorado (9)Public Policy Polling (D)9/9/200847467
Florida (27)InsiderAdvantage9/10/200842508
Florida (27)Quinnipiac University9/9/200843507
Georgia (15)InsiderAdvantage9/10/200838566
Georgia (15)Strategic Vision (R)9/9/200839529
Idaho (4)Rasmussen Reports9/9/200829683
Maine (4)Research 2000, DailyKos.com (D)9/10/2008523810
Michigan (17)InsiderAdvantage9/10/2008444511
Michigan (17)Rasmussen Reports9/10/200851463
Mississippi (6)Research 2000, DailyKos.com (D)9/10/200837558
National (538)Democracy Corps (D)9/10/200846486
National (538)InsiderAdvantage9/8/200846468
National (538)Public Opinion Strategies (R)9/8/2008434611
Nevada (5)InsiderAdvantage9/10/200845469
North Carolina (15)Civitas Institute (R)9/10/200844479
North Carolina (15)Research 2000, DailyKos.com (D)9/10/200838557
North Carolina (15)Garin Hart Yang (D)9/7/200846495
Ohio (20)InsiderAdvantage9/10/200847485
Ohio (20)Quinnipiac University9/9/200849447
Ohio (20)Strategic Vision (R)9/7/200844488
Pennsylvania (21)Quinnipiac University9/9/200848457
West Virginia (5)Mark Blankenship Enterprises9/8/2008394417
Wyoming (3)Rasmussen Reports9/10/200839583

There was a lot of irrelevance today (Idaho, Wyoming, Maine) but also some interesting results. The swing states were well represented and uniformly showed that Obama has retaken his pre-convention lead. InsiderAdvantage released five new polls today, three favored Obama, one McCain and the National poll was a tie. I took a look at the cross tabs on each of these polls and it appears that InsiderAdvantage may be underestimating Obama's support among African Americans; the numbers actually represented a drop in AA support from the results Kerry posted in 2004. I highly doubt this phenomenon will occur in November based on AA turn out in the caucuses and the fact that Obama is the first African American presidential nominee. The rest of the non-partisan polls seemed to accurately represent the electorate.

Published on September 11st at 8:14 PM CT :: 1 Comment

A Referendum on Who?

Throughout the period leading into each party's convention the election was described as a referendum on Obama. It was thought that John McCain's only hope for victory was to prove that Obama was not up to the job. John McCain went about this in two ways. John's first premise was to paint Obama as a political newbie with no "real" experience. McCain's other tactic focused on premeditated disinformation of the "he's a Muslim" variety [Obama is NOT a Muslim, not that it should matter]. These tactics did not pay off; throughout the entire summer Obama maintained roughly a two point lead.

McCain had to make a move, he needed a game changer; Sarah Palin was his answer. With this decision the entire focus shifted away from "is Obama qualified" to "who is Sarah Palin." If Sarah Palin was able to answer that question the focus could shift back to Obama's qualifications, or apparent lack thereof. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your position, Palin has not stepped up to the plate. The McCain campaign did the political equivalent of pinch hitting a right handed hitter for a lefty batter against a southpaw. McCain's decision simply didn't make sense. Something behind the scenes must have occurred to force his hand, the question remains, what?

I wrote in an earlier article that Obama should select Joe Biden as his VP because it would alter the electoral landscape and in turn McCain's choice. Obama took my advice. The aftermath of each VP changed the field of play, but also the rules. Since the conventions Obama and Biden have quietly slipped into the incumbent position as the McCain campaign desperately tries to trash their credibility.

The McCain campaign is still operating under the preconvention mindset that people actually care whether Obama is qualified or not; the polls have clearly shown that the qualification card is not affecting voters. If the attacks on Obama's qualifications were working to begin with, the Sarah Palin selection would not have been needed. As such McCain's strategy changed to reflect their desire for the race to be a referendum on Sarah Palin in the hopes that she would emerge. Sarah Palin has not emerged . Until she emerges the election will be a referendum on McCain and his decision to select Sarah Palin. The longer it takes for this to happen, the poorer McCain's outlook becomes. If all is not well by the Vice Presidential debate on October 2nd, McCain is done, Biden can put on his Droopy face and nothing will go wrong.

McCain may have altered the complexion of the race, but not in his favor, at least so far. Obama has become impervious to criticism; nothing can happen that will overshadow the Plain situation, at least until Palin actually does something. Until then the election is not a referendum on Obama's experience, but rather the subliminal comparison between each candidate's VP decision process.

Published on September 11st at 1:27 AM CT :: 1 Comment

GOP Stealing Democrat's Blue Brand

I attended the Minnesota State Fair on the same day John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate. During my visit I made it a point to stop by each political party's kiosk and take pictures. I then took the resulting photos and masked any element associated with the given party. I replaced anything resembling the parties likeness with square brackets ([]), any candidate's name with "First" and "Lastname" and I have censored the presidential signs with purple polygons. I preserved the font and color schemes on each party's individual candidate signs. The resulting images are shown below. Can you decipher which generic campaign kiosk belongs to each party? Pay close attention to the layout and color scheme.

Unknown A: (click image to toggle actual photo)
View High-Resolution: [A : Actual]
Unknown A

Exhibit B: (click image to toggle actual photo)
View High-Resolution: [B : Actual]
Unknown B

Was it harder than you thought? It probably took a bit of reasoning (unless you were already familiar with the sign layouts) to arrive at the correct conclusion because both kiosks are predominately blue; the color associated with the Democrats. I find it very curious that the Republican's are using blue signs for both their Senate candidate (Norm Coleman) and a House candidate (Michele Bachmann). It appears that the GOP is running away from their poor image and actually trying to piggyback on the good image of Democrats (the blue color association) to get reelected.

If for whatever reason the image toggling javascript is not working, the first unknown is the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota and Unknown B is the Minnesota Republican Party's kiosk.

Published on September 7th at 11:17 PM CT :: 9 Comments

Will the Real Palin Please Stand Up

Sarah Palin has been a national figure for just nine days, and in those nine days she has yet to be definitively defined by anybody. The Obama campaign has looked Sarah Palin square in the eye and said "beat us; we challenge you to beat us." So far it's working, and the McCain campaign isn't making any halftime adjustments. Sarah Palin has yet to make a solo appearance, she has yet to make a press appearance, she has yet to author anything (including her page at JohnMcCain.com which just recites the acceptance speech written by Bush's speechwriter), and above all she has yet to convey any aurora of capability. If the Republican's are to have any hope of winning, which is slim right now, Sarah Palin must become a known quantity.

The McCain campaign has nobody to blame but themselves; they can't blame the media, because they aren't cooperating with the media, they can't blame sexism because they've already entirely botched that argument, but what they can do is attempt to define Palin themselves; they just have yet to be successful.

I think part of the GOP's problem stems from the nature of Sarah Palin the politician; she's the political equivalent of the sports fan whose favorite team is the one who just claimed the title. She is incapable of understanding the plight of a Cubs fan because she's too busy buying Red Sox merchandise. Nobody will take Sarah seriously until she reaches into her closet and pulls out that Cubs jersey. The McCain campaign is apparently waiting for an EastBay order to arrive, meanwhile the media is trying to decipher where she actually stands and Obama is content to wait for the debates. If Palin can't make a decision soon (or is not allowed to make a decision soon), it won't matter whether they make the playoffs.

Until then the knocking will grow louder as voters continue to ask for the real Sarah Palin to please stand up.

Published on September 7th at 1:00 AM CT :: 22 Comments

Can Sarah Palin Think?

Will the country blindly accept intelligence bestowed upon Palin by the media, especially after the current President's intelligence. My guess is yes; which is why I am straight up questioning Sarah Palin's competence. In her eight days on the national stage she has demonstrated no capability for logical thought. At her introduction last Friday (8/29) she regurgitated a speech written by somebody else. The following weekend in Pennsylvania she essentially repeated the same speech. Palin's third and most recent public appearance was her acceptance speech at the RNC in St. Paul. Here she gave yet another speech written by somebody else, but this time it was also written for somebody else. The McCain campaign has also been insistent on eliminating any of her interaction with the media. Palin has been the VP candidate for a week and has herself contributed nothing of substance to her national introduction.

But perhaps I'm being too critical and expecting too much out of Palin in such a short time. Let's say I do give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she isn't stupid. If I focus on her time before her nomination as VP I can come up with two glaring examples in which she lacked mental fortitude; the first revolves around her successful outing of an established figure in the Alaskan Republican party, and the second incident arises from the situation around her daughter's pregnancy, but has nothing to do with her daughter.

Her first display of incompetence occurred in between her unsuccessful run for Lieutenant Governorship of Alaska in 2002 and her successful run for Governor in 2006. During this time she suffered from what I'm going to refer to as the "Washington Complex," a condition in which you believe yourself to be the law. At some point Palin grew irritated with certain members of the Alaskan Republican party and vowed to stir the pot. She succeeded with the eventual indictment of Randy Ruedrich and Gregg Renkes. If you piss off the ruling party in Alaska some people are going to remember; your only option at this point is to be squeaky clean or risk revenge. At this point Palin should be commended, but the story isn't over. Palin would eventually dismiss Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, citing performance-related issues, but it appears that Monegan was dismissed for refusing to fire Palin's ex-brother-in-law instead. This is the point where she developed the "Washington Complex." It turns out some people did remember her earlier activity; in response the Alaska Legislature commissioned an investigation into the conditions surrounding Monegan's dismissal. She thought she was above the law and caught, ignoring the cardinal rule of politics: someone is always watching.

When you base your candidacy on the family values, religious right, stereotypical small government and lower taxes Republican candidate it's definitely not good for your political resume when your seventeen year old daughter gets pregnant out of wedlock. But as Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin could have very easily just declared the couple married; Boom, problem solved. It would have been the politically expedient thing to do, but it would also have been the best thing for her daughter and potential son-in-law. There is really no downside to this civil "wedding"; the marriage would have been easily deniable (the baby was premature) and could just be erased if needed. Palin's lapse in logic is comparable to George's WMD debacle (but on a much smaller scale); if you make up false war pretenses, it seems logical that you should also make up false WMD's, but George didn't and neither did Sarah. If Palin is going to play the "mother of five" card she probably should have put her child first; unless of course, she couldn't think of it?

In any case Palin has fifty-nine days to demonstrate competence and so far she's squandered eight.

Published on September 5th at 5:14 PM CT :: 19 Comments

Qualifications of a President

The USA Constitution states the three requirements needed to become President; one must be a natural born citizen of the US, one must be at least 35 years of age, and one must have lived in the US for at least 14 years. But there's one more caveat, actually getting elected. To become President elect one must receive a majority of the Electoral Votes (270 for the 2008 Election), with a tie being decided in the House of Representatives. Nothing in the constitution states anything about the qualifications needed to serve as President; rather this decision is left up to the citizenry. The people decide who is qualified by voting.

The basis for the qualification of a President as laid out in the constitution is as follows; let us start by assuming that [Candidate] is seeking the Presidency and has succeeded:

  1. [Candidate] received the most Electoral Votes (ignoring a tie)
  2. [Candidate] theoretically* received the most popular votes, because [Candidate] received the most Electoral Votes.
  3. [Candidate] received the most popular votes because [Candidate] is the most qualified.

*Implies that the popular vote is perfectly reflective of the proportion of the Electoral Votes assigned to a given state. This does not always happen, but is the intention of the system.

The constitution's conclusion is simple; a candidate will receive the most votes for President, and in turn the most Electoral Votes if they are the most qualified. If this conclusion is taken and applied to the current Presidential race, the facts submitted in the previous article are given new light.

Let's first start with the Presidential side of the ticket. If we analyze the vote totals for just the 2008 Presidential Primaries as if it were a poll (assuming 122,295,345 voters, the same as in 2004) John McCain receives 8.05% and Obama receives 15.16% of the total voting population. If you believe the previous reasoning then these percentages can be directly equated to a candidate's qualification level. As of the primary, twice as many people believe Obama is more qualified to be President than McCain.

Now the counter argument is that John McCain secured the nomination earlier than Obama and therefore people in the later states didn't vote in as high of numbers for McCain because the nominee was already decided. This may be true, but of the people who did vote they voted in much higher numbers for McCain because it was essentially a soviet style election, with just one real contender. I'm going to conclude that the ratio of increased turnout for the Democrats due to the tight race can be canceled out by the lack of real competition in the Republican race; I have no concrete proof of this so if anybody wants to concretely prove me wrong, go for it.

It is not the set of experiences that qualify a candidate for the presidency, but rather how a candidate's set of experiences' are translated by the electorate into qualification. The electorate so far, has clearly decided that Obama is more qualified.

Published on September 3rd at 6:53 PM CT :: 8 Comments

Electoral College Projection Map
Senate Projection Map