News from the Votemaster
We have a (small) new feature today. In the little tables with the new polls, the state or CD names are now clickable and take you to the graph of the state or CD for the whole year.
Barack Obama has requested that the DNC seat the full Florida and Michigan delegations at the convention, arguing that the voters in those states can't be slighted. He will probably get his way, but DNC officials are afraid of complete chaos in 2011 when lots of states will probably jump the gun and we will be having primaries before Halloween.
There will be three traditional presidential debates this Fall, plus one Vice Presidential debate. The schedule is as follow:- Sept. 26, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS (presidential candidates)
- Oct. 2, Washington University, St. Louis, MO (vice presidential candidates)
- Oct 7, Belmont, University, Nashville, TN (presidential candidates)
- Oct. 15, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY (presidential candidates)
The reason for picking these states wasn't given, but they seem like peculiar choices. There are two in the South and none in the West and only one is in a true swing state. Better choices might have been Nevada, Missouri, Virginia, and New Hampshire, all of which are competitive.
John McCain had asked for as many as 10 town hall meetings. Obama countered with a proposal for a true debate without a moderator in the style of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Neither one accepted the other's proposal, so they ended up with the now-traditional format. In the first and third presidential debates, the candidates will be seated at a round table with a moderator asking the questions. In the second debate, the questions with come from the audience and via the Internet.
The candidates' debatemasters will now haggle over the details. The details for the 2004 debate ran to 32 pages. For example, one rule specified that George Bush was not to be photographed from the rear. The networks ignored that and did it anyway, resulting in this photo which some people believe shows Bush wearing a radio receiver under his jacket with a wire leading to an earpiece. Others have said it might be a bulletproof vest, but police and military experts have said that is not what bulletproof vests look like. Still others have said what is clearly visible in the photo is merely a crease or an ill-fitting jacket.
McCain's strategy of intense attacks on Obama appears to be working despite his earlier vow to avoid personal attacks. He has accused Obama of willingness to lose a war to win an election, of being a bubbleheaded celebrity like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, of not visiting the troops in Germany because he couldn't take the press, and of playing the race card. The American people apparently believe McCain as Obama's 9-point lead of a week ago has vanished and the candidates are now tied at 44% each. It will be interesting to see if Obama decides to take the gloves off.
Does the state of the economy predict the election? No, but it sure gives a hint. Here is a graph from Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University showing how the popular vote for the party incumbent in the White House relates to economic growth. There is clearly a strong correlation. Based on this model, Obama is predicted to get 53% of the vote.
There are two clear outliers in the graph: 1952 and 1968. Both can be explained fairly directly. In neither year was the economy an issue at all. In 1952, the popular general Dwight Eisenhower, who won WWII, promised to end the stalemate that had been going on in Korea for two years. The hapless Adlai Stevenson wasn't running on continuing Harry Truman's economic policies. He wasn't even Truman's Vice President. In 1968, the economy was booming but the dominant issue was the unpopular war in Vietnam and the starting gun for the culture wars (fired by Mayor Daley's police force in what was later called a "police riot."). The economy wasn't on the agenda at all that year.
-- The Votemaster