Archive for May, 2008

New Math

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

From First Read.

Closing Takes

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

One word sums up the rules fight…anti-climactic. Most of us with our ear to the ground expected this outcome.

But there’s something lingering in the circus atmosphere, namely whether it promotes Party division or if people will find it a bit silly and recoil from it. That’s left open for now I suppose.

On a Serious Note

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

As I’ve said before, one of the truly puzzling things about the Clinton campaign has been the way it’s been standoffish about surrogates who are clearly damaging it. Bill Clinton is insulting the superdelegates that Hillary needs to vote for her, Geraldine Ferraro continues to stir up animosity with a racial bent and furthering the perception that the Clinton campaign is trying to exploit racial division, and now, Lanny Davis is having a fight with DNC members and uncommitted superdelegates (conflict cited earlier).

Jon Ausman is a DNC Member and uncommited superdelegate (who endorsed Dennis Kucinich for heaven’s sake), just the kind of person that the Clinton campaign needs on their side now. But not only does Lanny undiplomatically confront him, he basically tries to humiliate him in front of the press.

If anyone knows where I can lay a bet on Ausman casting his ballot for Obama, let me know.

Observations

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

One thing I’ve noticed today is the difference between the Democratic Party at large and “Clinton loyalists,” that is those people whose status comes from their Clinton ties and who would be diminished in the event that Hillary were to lose (Terry McAullife, Lanny Davis, etc.) If you pay attention, I think you can see the difference between the two pretty noticeably today. Carl Levin for example, despite one of the most adamant advocations for seating the delegates, got testy with Harold Ickes to the point of even acknowledging the results of the Michigan primary were “flawed,” and essentially convenying that Levin does not support allocating delegates based on the primary. Bill Nelson, also quite fervent in seating the Florida delegates differentiated himself from the Clinton campaign in the exchange with Lanny cited earlier.

All in all, I think this signals one clear thing; regardless of the outcomes today, and even in regards to nominal Clinton supporters like Nelson, the very real likelihood that Obama is the nominee is ruling the day, and adustments are being made.

More Lanny!

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

This is like Christmas come early.

Lanny! Today

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

From Jake Tapper

The “Florida unity” group, which included Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, a Clinton supporter, Rep. Bob Wexler, D-Florida, am Obama supporter, and Florida Democratic National Committee member Jon Ausman of Tallahassee, who filed a challenge to the DNC’s decision to not recognize any of Florida’s delegates.

They seemed to come around the idea that for now the DNC would agree to seat Florida’s entire 211-member delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, though all the delegates — pledged and superdelegates — would have their vote count as half a delegate. The move would net Clinton 19 pledged delegates. Participants seemed to agree that the door was open to the eventual Democratic nominee seating them at full strength if he or she so chose.

Clinton campaign surrogate Lanny Davis stood outside the circle and interrupted, raising his voice in protest that the Clinton campaign had agreed to anything less than a 100% seating of the delegates at 100% of their strength.

Nelson noted that he was speaking “on behalf of the voters of Florida,” not on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

“They’re misrepresenting our stance,” Davis said repeatedly.

Then Arthenia L. Joyner, Clinton’s designated Florida representative, approached the circle.

“The campaign is only for 100%,” Joyner said.

Davis and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, a fiery supporter of Sen. Clinton’s, exchanged some heated words with Ausman after the Florida DNC member suggested they had no business speaking.

Davis took issue with some from the Florida unity group saying the Obama campaign’s concession was “generous” since Clinton would net 19 delegates.

“That is not generous when they take away 50%,” Davis said. “That is spin!”

What’s wrong with netting 19 delegates? “It’s 19 less than the people of Florida voted,” Davis said.

This was more than Florida DNC member Ausman could apparently take. “I can say they’re being generous,” Ausman said of the Obama campaign, “and I’m the one who filed the petition.”

“Are you a paid staff member for Clinton?” Ausman asked Davis.

“Actually I’m just a friend,” said Davis.

“Are you a designated representative of the Clinton campaign?” Ausman, who may be a foot taller than Davis, asked.

“I am not,” Davis said.

“Why don’t you let the designated representative speak for Clinton and you be silent?” Ausman said, more a statement than a question. “Are you from Florida?”

“Why don’t you go about your business?” Jones asked Ausman.

“As a matter of fact I will not be silent,” Davis said, “you’re not going to silence me.”

More Ferraro

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

If you’re like me, you’ve got car-wreck syndrome for all things Ferraro. But even if you don’t, this article from Hilzoy is still an exceptionally good read.

The general conclusion and straight forward, Ferraro’s comments simply make no sense if they really have nothing to do with race. Where exactly does the “distrust” of Obama amongst “Reagan Democrats” come from if we’re to believe, as Ferraro would have us, that nothing Obama does or says, that none of his positions on the issues, or any other traditional metric we would use for juding political candidates can have any effect on their opinion of him (and the Ivy League garbage makes no sense, with Bill and Hillary Clinton both having well known backgrounds in “elite” education).

I think there’s a more subtle tip in Ferraro’s latest outburst though, one that has gona remarked on but, in my opinion, fundamentally misunderstood; Ferraro’s distinction between racism and “racial resentment.” Let’s just put it out there; this isn’t some honest appraisal of the so-called Reagan Democrats, it’s a projection of her own opinions. She harbors racial resentment, not because she’s a racist necessarily, but because she thinks there’s been a disproportionate concern for racism over her concern for sexism in society. The reasons for that are obvious and much expounded on, I’m merely offering up my own theory for the distinctions as they relate to Ferraro’s own, clear, state of mind and deep seeded biases.

Anyway, any bets on when the next Ferraro-tainment will be?

Bill Clinton; Off the Rocker

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

If it wasn’t clear before, I think it becomes pretty evident in this bizarre Politico piece. One thing I wonder, how does one expect to get superdelegate support by insulting them?

“She will win the general election if you nominate her. They’re just trying to make sure you don’t,” Bill Clinton said at the Fort Thompson event. “It is just frantic the way they are trying to push and pressure and bully all these superdelegates to come out.” He then began impersonating an intimidated superdelegate: “Oh, this is so terrible: The people, they want her. Oh, this is so terrible: She is winning the general election, and he is not. Oh my goodness, we have to cover this up.”

On the flip side I suppose that is a pretty good indication that he doesn’t see much room to win for her, and is just lashing out at anyone and everyone in true narcissistic fashion.

Resentment

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

One of Ygelsias guest bloggers pretty succinctly sums of Geraldine Ferraro:

Get it? When you think an Ivy-educated black couple is elitist, but think an Ivy-educated white couple is the salt of the earth, you aren’t a racist you just resent black people racially. Big Difference. I mean, you wouldn’t attend a Klan rally or anything, but elect Barack and soon they’ll be marrying your daughters.

One thing that’s truly regrettable about the last month or so has been the way in which Hillary Clinton has subjugated herself to people around her who don’t necessarily have her interest in mind, whether it’s Ferraro, Howard Wolfson, or even Bill. Then again, maybe she’s driving it. Obama’s only a non-Muslim “as far as [she] know[s]” after all.

About the “Brand”

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Truly stunning stuff:

Let’s take a deeper look into the data and see how our messages play when voters know where they’re from and when they don’t know which party is saying what. If you want the exact wording of both parties’ message and the full data, go back and take a second look at the poll.

Let’s start with the economy. When voters know what party each message comes from, we lose 37% to 58% and trail among independents by 18%. Ouch. However, when you read both messages without telling voters who they come from, the story gets worse.

Republican voters like the Democrat’s message more than their own party’s message by a large 14% margin when they don’t know which party it comes from. Just as disturbing, numbers among independents drop by another 10%… giving the Democrats a massive 28% advantage. Even our horrifically damaged image is better than our message on the economy. Independents and even Republicans simply like the Democrats’ plan more than ours.

Iraq and trade both follow the exact same pattern. We’re getting smashed on both issues on the partisan test, but when you look at the nonpartisan test where our damaged image isn’t a factor, the numbers get even worse among Independents and Republicans. A few Democrats (and in the case of trade a bunch of Democrats) move our way on the nonpartisan ballot, but Independents actually agree with our messages more when they know the messages came from Republicans.

On taxes, the picture gets more complex. On the partisan text, Independents like the Democrats’ message by significant 14% margin, but Republicans still like our message and give us a resounding 39% advantage. That changes drastically on the nonpartisan test.

When the party’s names are removed, Independents are almost evenly split, giving the Democrats’ message a small 5% advantage. However, Republican voters stampede away from the GOP message. Among Republicans, support for the GOP message on taxes drops by a gargantuan 53% when the party’s names are removed, leaving the Democrats with a 14% advantage. You read that right, on the nonpartisan test, Independents like the GOP message on taxes more than Republicans do and even Independents slightly favor the Democrats.

Even Republican voters like the Democratic message better when you don’t tell them where it comes from.

I Don’t Even Know Anymore

Friday, May 30th, 2008

“You can’t tell how far a frog will jump until you punch him.”

Hillary Clinton

Gender Today

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I’ve speculated that there’s some latent attempt to leave Clinton supporters, especially women, with a sense that the nomination has somehow “been stolen from them,” and a couple of pieces today, by Geraldine Ferraro and EJ Dionne, would seem to back that up.

Something that occured to me somewhere in the reading of all this; Clinton has not led the pledged delegate count at any point since voting started.

Huckabee vs. Libertarians

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Mike Huckabee was always a curious fascination of mine; I very rarely agreed with him on anything, and his unrepentant Christianism should have scared me, but he was just so damn likeable. And he struck me on matters of fiscal policy as fairly sensible, Fair Tax aside, by modern Republican standards. Anyway, he took a great big swipe at Libertarianism that’s evoked some fevered response across the blogosphere. The part that stands out to me:

Republicans need to be Republicans. The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it’s this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it’s a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says “look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don’t get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it.” Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it’s not an American message. It doesn’t fly. People aren’t going to buy that, because that’s not the way we are as a people. That’s not historic Republicanism. Historic Republicanism does not hate government; it’s just there to be as little of it as there can be. But they also recognize that government has to be paid for.

And again, I find myself in some inexplicable agreement with Huckabee. While I don’t have a problem with general libertarianism in theory, today’s libertarians, or as a friend calls them “glibertarians,” strike me as being more or less intellectually unserious contrarians who find some chic acceptance in lazy, generalized, “gubmint sucks” rhetoric without any serious thought to application or common will behind it. And before any libertarians flame me for this, ask yourselves how exactly you’d manage the levers of government were anyone with your “ideas” in a serious position to gain power, how those absurd notions of abolishing the common framework established over the past 70 years would be implemented through the various levels and branches of government (and ultimately public will), and I think you’ll see what I mean.

The Purpose-Driven Polls?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

One of Yglesias’ guest bloggers picked up the piece, and I flagged the same thing Crowley noticed:

The reason for the differences is not hard to find. American polling organisations tend to rely on relatively small samples (certainly judged by British standards) for their results, often somewhere between 500 and 700 likely voters, compared to the more usual 1000-2000-plus for British national polls. The recent New York Times poll that gave Obama a 12 per cent lead was based on interviews with just 283 people. For a country the size of the United States, this is the equivalent to stopping a few people at random in the street, or throwing darts at a board. Given that American political life is generally so cut-throat, you might think there was room for a polling organisation that sought a competitive advantage by using the sort of sample sizes that produce relatively accurate results. Why on earth does anyone pay for this rubbish?

The answer is that in an election like this one, the polls aren’t there to tell the real story; they are there to support the various different stories that the commentators want to tell. The market is not for the hard truth, because the hard truth this time round is that most people are voting with the predictability of prodded animals. What the news organisations and blogs and roving pundits want are polls that suggest the voters are thinking hard about this election, arguing about it, making up their minds, talking it through, because that’s what all the commentators like to think they are doing themselves. This endless raft of educated opinion needs to be kept afloat on some data indicating that it matters what informed people say about politics, because it helps the voters to decide which way to jump. If you keep the polling sample sizes small enough, you can create the impression of a public willing to be moved by what other people are saying. That’s why the comment industry pays for this rubbish.

Maybe more to the point, if we acknowledge that voting has followed a remarkably predictable trend along the basis of demographics state to state with very little movement in either direction, and can readily see evidence of pollsters manipulating results in such a way as to drive narrative (remember those North Carolina polls that were “narrowing” because the polling outfits were reducing the weight of African Americans in the sample?), then the point seems obvious; without polls to point to to justify the narrative, and instead to acknowledge the rather boring, constant, reality, there’s really no justification for the existance of the hyperbolic coverage of the election we’ve gotten from the media, namely cable. And if we accept that, cable journalists might be reduced to carrying out…journalism.

Count “Every” Vote?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Markos lays out a fairly compelling popular vote rationale about unofficial contests.