Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Call the election.

It seems like before the primary ended, I kept hearing "But Obama HAS to be the nominee, only he can beat McCain!"

Now an increasing number of people commenting here are saying sadly that they don't have much hope for Obama.

Just curious, who do you think is going to win?

who genuinely thinks it's going to be Obama.


Scott Wells said...

Obama. 280+ EV.

UUbuntu said...

It seems like before the primary ended, I kept hearing "But Obama HAS to be the nominee, only he can beat McCain!"

Do you have a link for this sentiment? I have never read it in any of my general election sources (demconwatch, digbysblog, fivethirtyeight, onegoodmove and various UU blogs). During the primaries, I sensed a general (but not universal) preference for Obama on these sites (which I shared), but -- aside from comment sections on these sites (who usually represent the most zealous and ignorant of supporters, and whose zealotry seemed to cut both ways) -- I only heard about these views. I never heard these views expressed directly by knowledgeable writers.

For what it's worth, I believed -- in February, April and now -- that the Democratic nominee has a 50-60% chance of winning the election in November. I believed that, with Clinton, the chance was closer to 50-55%, but with Obama, the chance was closer to 55-60%. I still believe that.

As I write this, I don't know who will win, but I think that the popular margin of victory will be less than 2%. Depending on the electoral college breaks, Obama will win between 250 and 300 electoral votes. McCain will win between 240 and 290.

Like 2000 and 2004, this election will be very close. At this point in time, I give a slight edge (55% chance) to Obama.

Anonymous said...

I firmly believe Obama will win, comfortably in the Electoral College and by a wider than expected margin of the popular vote—I don’t believe that this will be a 1 or 2 % point election.

It’s not just because I am one of those dreamy eyed UU liberals, although I suppose I am. I can go all gooey inside with Obama’s soaring appeals to our better side, his emotional connection to the inspirations of my long ago youth from John Kennedy to Martin Luther King, his frankly appealing message of hope in a very dark era. I’ll cop to all of that.

But I am also a down-in-the-trenches kind of guy. I’ve had more than 40 years cranking mimeograph machines (remember those) in the peace movement, as labor organizer, a community activist, and such. For the last twenty or so years I have been up to my elbows in the grimy—and to many idealistic UUs disreputable—world of Democratic Party politics on the local, retail level. I am currently chair of a county party in what has been a traditionally Republican bastion. I know a thing or two about what it takes to move people, to energize them actually get up off the couch and do something.

So believe me when I tell you that I have never seen an organization so committed and focused as the Obama campaign. It is, bar none, the best field operation I have ever seen down to the precinct level. And what is more amazing that it has been organized not on traditional top-down, chain of command authority, but has really been built from the ground up in a style in which the lowliest stamp-licker knows he or she not only as job in the campaign, but has a voice in it. When organizations achieve this, they transform themselves into movements. And movements change history.

Finally, as an Illinoisan, I found out first hand never to underestimate Barack Obama’s intelligence and enormous skills. About seven years ago I met him in the dusty aftermath of a Democrat Day Rally at the State Fair in Springfield. A mutual friend introduced us. He was a state senator about to run for the US Senate. I was the obscure vice-chair of a county party that had not delivered a Democratic majority in a state wide election since before the Civil War. He took the time to chat for almost half an hour. He not only talked but he listened. He evidence a breadth of knowledge on an array of issues that astounded me and he had a keen, clear eyed assessment of what was possible. To say that I walked away impressed was an understatement. After we parted I told my friend that he was the most qualified man I had ever met for the US Senate, but that it was “too bad a guy with the name Obama can never be elected in Illinois.” So I supported another candidate in the Democratic primary. Along with the rest of the field, she was blown out of the water by Obama. I saw him run an outstanding statewide campaign. He won every corner of Illinois, even including my own ever-red McHenry County. Later I saw him pack the Woodstock Opera House and McHenry County College for town hall meetings at which life long Republicans were just as enthused as yellow dog Democrats.

Never underestimate Barack Obama.

UUbuntu said...

patrickmurfin -- I hope you're right. My 50th birthday is next January 20, and while I expect a new president for my birthday, I would *really* prefer the Democratic choice.

It's stories like yours -- emphasizing the "ground game" that the Obama campaign is investing much money -- that give me hope that this may be more than a squeaker of an election. But my hope is tempered by by understanding of the politics of voter suppression that are an increasing part of the campaign.

Sometimes this election feels like Obama's push to increase turnout (by all means necessary) vs. the Republican party's push to reduce turnout (also by all means necessary). But that all remains as speculation (hope vs. fear) on my part. When I look at the poll numbers and the poll projections, I see another very, very close election coming. I hope I'm wrong.

Joel Monka said...

Depends a lot on who McCain picks for VP. If it's Romney, he's lost before the echoes of the announcement die. If he does something bold, like one of the woman governors (there are three, all about equal on paper) or Joe Liberman, then it's McCain's to lose. If it's a safe, conventional pick, then it's down to world events and who gaffes last. If I have to guess before the pick, I'll say popular vote tied, electoral edge going to McCain. I say this because Obama's popularity is deep but narrow, and it doesn't matter how large the margin is in those states you win. It's possible to win 75% of the popular votes and lose the electoral if the votes are too concentrated.

Chalicechick said...


Well, the first one I could find was this one. I feel like crap and I didn't look very hard, but I'm sure finding others wouldn't be much work.

From the article The odds of a Republican presidency suddenly got a lot higher. There’s really only one potential matchup that would give the GOP a better than even chance of winning: John McCain versus Hillary Clinton. McCain is a popular personality who can attract the support of voters who aren’t inclined to support his party. Clinton is an unpopular personality who loses the support of voters who are otherwise inclined to support her party. If she wins the nomination, it will be because she’s a polarizing figure who rallies Democrats as the object of Republican attacks. (If George W. Bush could run for re-election, he’d easily ace the GOP primary for the same reason.)


Bill Baar said...

oh Pat c'mon..I remember being in the trench with you and Fred Thompson at 2440 N. Linconln when the Wobs rented the hall to Lyn Marcus (aka Lynndon LaRouche) and his SDS National Caucus of Labor Committees when they did their strong-armed intervention at the Communist Party Convention of 1969 (or 70) (?) at the International Amphitheater.

Those years were plain weird and the experience gives neither of us much insight on a thing other than the weirdness of the left then.

Who knows if Obama will win at this point.

Everyone in Illinois was gung ho but we all have thoughts of jobs in his administration, or his throwing points towards Illinois projects, or even those who dislike him have hopes of careers as pundits critizing him e.g. phone calls from around the world from newspapers checking Illinois blogs.... Obama's campaign stokes everyones ego in Illinois.

I've always thought Obama a far weaker candidate than many in Illinois and Saddleback was the perfect example. The last hard race her ran was against Bobby Rush and Rush trounced him.

Obama sounds overly analytical, and then dodges question with cute stuff e.g. above my grade. That was standard Obama.

FW Thompson would have seen clear through Obama Murf... I'm sure Fred's looking down from Red Heaven with William Montgomery Brown (I still have my copy of Communism and Christianism from the Book Store) getting a chuckle from this.

Comrade Kevin said...

I think we on the left have had our hearts broken so often that we're overcautious and superstitious. As the race has tightened, many of us have started the doomsday chorus.

I think Obama will be elected as well and my real concern is not getting Obama elected, but hoping that in office he can get half the things accomplished that he wants.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how close it's going to be ....

I truly hope I'm wrong, but I say McCain. That would make me very sad because he is a scary, scary man. I watched one of his debates with Kerry - he trounced Kerry - because he lied repeatedly. It comes out of his mouth as easily as air. But the people watching the debate didn't know that, because they just took the debate face value and didn't have access to the fact checking. It makes me very nervous.

I don't know that I ever thought Obama had a better chance of beating McCain than Clinton did; but I voted for him anyway. I'll vote for him again.

But maybe it's like ComradeKevin said; maybe I'm just trying not to get my hopes up, and I'm anxious about what he'll be able to accomplish one he's in office. I've always felt wary of his chances, even when the field was full of nominees. I believe I stated, at dinner one night with friends, "He will not be elected President of the United States."

May the future prove me wrong!

Will said...

If you believe in systems theory, you believe that systems resist change. Last spring everyone on both the right and left agreed the mess in Iraq was out biggest problem. There was enough focus on that one issue for enough people to agree that change was less scary than status quo.

Now Iraq has fallen from the headlines. Is there enough focus on our problems for America as a system to overcome its resistance to change? Our problems are many and great--the economy, energy, the environment, Supreme Court Judges, health care, social security/medicare, education, race relations, blah, blah, blah. But in such times of stress, my argument is that people will be even more resistant to change, even more afraid of taking a chance.

What's changed is focus. There's not a laser clear focus on one issue that produces enough fear for the system to overcome its resistance to change. Not among enough of the voters.

Enough voters will be laying there in bed waiting for that Ambien to kick in, worrying that the economy's bad but will raising taxes really fix it? Gas prices are high but will refusing to drill or to build nuclear plants help that? Health care is a mess but will turning more of it over to government control going to make it better or worse? Oh, and did I mention that he's black. And untested.

And it's not just the individuals within the American system who will fear change and vote against it. It's all the special interests and power that be, corporate and otherwise, who will fight to keep what they've got.

I think it will be McCain because by the time all the attacks and fear mongering is done, the fear of change--the fear of the unknown--is what will actually decide the election.

UUbuntu said...

Thanks, CC. I hope you feel better and take care of yourself.

As to your link/paragraph, I don't think it says anything like "only he can beat McCain". It simply says that a McCain - Clinton race will become a tossup, with a slight advantage to McCain. And that a non-Clinton candidate will probably be stronger.

The author says some things I believe to be true: Clinton IS an unpopular personality and a polarizing figure. I believe that that fact is due to some level of sexism in our society, combined with complex feelings about her spouse's presidency (and her spouse), along with a media preoccupation with gotcha-journalism. I don't think that it reflects at all on her competence or her positions on issues at all.

But calling a race 50-50 if one candidate is nominated vs. 55-45 if a different candidate is nominated is a far, far cry from a statement of "only my candidate can really win". And I still feel that while Clinton was a good candidate (and one whom I could support without hesitation), Obama is an excellent candidate, and a potential game changer.

I still stand by my belief that Obama will win, but as of today, I'm only about 55% confident of that prediction (which means I'm 45% confident that McCain will win). And that figure of confidence hasn't changed much for me in the past 6 months.

P.S. -- Excellent speech by Hillary tonight.

PG said...

At the time of the TNR post that CC linked, Clinton was a worse candidate because her negatives were much higher. Since then, a lot of culturally conservative Democrats and moderates have gotten freaked out by constant exposure to Jeremiah Wright, now Bill Ayres, and chain emails regarding Obama's lack of patriotism, secret Islam, everything-else-that-was- mocked-by-the-New-Yorker.

Incidentally, that cover is a fantastic marker between the cultural liberals who say, "How ridiculous to think Michelle Obama is an Afroed Black Panther!" and the cultural conservatives who can find some kernel of truth in it. In other words, the difference between those who think the cover satirized those who fear Obama, and those who think the cover satirized the Obamas themselves.

I agree that McCain has sunk his campaign if he puts the Romney millstone around his neck. He also would be dumb to pick a pro-legalized abortion VP; he put out that floater and the GOP base responded with a resounding NO. I incline to the conventional wisdom that he has to pick either a governor or cabinet member, i.e. someone with the domestic policy and especially economics chops that he lacks. A woman VP would be a good way to pull in certain Clinton supporters who are anti-Obama. Bobby Jindal would be a nice way to add color to the GOP ticket, while having a young guy who is very smart on domestic policy, is Catholic and culturally conservative, and has learned in Louisiana how to campaign among the bubbas. Jindal is becoming stupid by being governor of Louisiana, but he probably has enough IQ to survive it.

Bill Baar said...

But the people watching the debate didn't know that, because they just took the debate face value and didn't have access to the fact checking. It makes me very nervous.

I belonged to the Grinnell College ListServ back in 2003 with many Dean Activists working in Iowa for him. They were despondent when Dean pulled out and their consolation was Kerry would be running as a War Hero.

I told them I remembered Kerry very well from Winter Soldier and it would be a disaster to recall those old videos and open those old memories and wounds. Worse, I knew folks from VVAW who thought Kerry an SOB then --read the VVAW history-- and still now! Kerry as War Hero would be a disaster. Barry Romo from VVAW and with Kerry in Detroit for Winter Soldier...shunned Kerry in 2003/4 (and for what it's worth...Kerry shunned him).

Everyone told me I was nuts..no way Kerry was vulnerable...everyone would think him a hero for being right about Vietnam.

Now we have Obama and I found M&M's (a progressive Hyde Parker)reference to Bill Ayers hosting Obama's early fundraiser. Those of us in Chicago know Ayer's as not just the radical but son of a wealthy family and the old CEO of Commenwealth Edison. Powerful people donating much to Chicago institutions.

That was a big Red Flag (no pun) about this candidate few people knew much about...

...it sure seems to me Dems just go with awfully weak candidates... they fall in love with them without taking much time to dig a bit... into Obama's past, or in the case of Kerry, their own recollections of a very bad time in our history.

Call voters dumb if you like, but Democrats should have known better with these candidates.

Anonymous said...

I think Obama will win the popular vote, but that something will happen to put McCain in the White House.

ogre said...

Late to the party (in class, in class, I haven't been making my normal rounds)...

I find the idea that the GOP VP pick matters much risable. For starters, the VP pick is almost always a small upside, larger possible downside choice. But in this case... there's no one I see as having much of even the small upside possibility for McCain.

And Biden will lacerate any of them--the man has a terrible swift tongue, and can unleash it and smile at the same time. McCain's delivered a set of gaffes (personally and through surrogates) that aren't repairable:
<$5million/year = middle class
Doesn't know how many houses he and his wife has (hurts twice--makes him a plutocrat and fires up the "Is he too old and losing it?" question without anyone having to articulate it).
Everyone has health insurance (because there are emergency rooms, and the next president should decree that the Census cannot label anyone as uninsured...)

How do you spell out of touch?

And after the last night of the convention in Denver... I think it's just numbers that are in question.

Obama wins.