News from the Votemaster
The Office of the Inspector General has issued a 140-page report clearly stating that Monica Goodling, a former senior aide to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, repeatedly broke the law by interrogating prospective judges and other federal employees to see if their views on abortion, gay marriage and other political subjects were compatible with the administration's. Such political tests are expressly forbidden by law. Other Justice Dept. officials were also implicated. The report gives examples such as a prosecutor who got rave reviews from his superiors being passed over for a counterterrorism slot in favor of a inexperienced Republican lawyer beause the prosecutor's wife was active in Democratic Party politics. Other examples include a lawyer getting good marks because he held "correct" views on God, guns, and gays. This report will undoubtedly give the Democrats more ammo for calling the Republicans corrupt in the Fall. It is a slow news day so the story is being played big everywhere.
What's going on here? Gallup now has a national poll out putting John McCain ahead of Barack Obama 49% to 45%. This result not only differs from every other national poll for the past 3 months, but it also differs from Gallup's own three-day tracking poll taken in the same time frame, which has Obama ahead 48% to 40%. It is one thing for Gallup to differ substantially from, say, Rasmussen, claiming it has better methodology, human interviewers, etc. But it is altogether different for Gallup to differ from Gallup. Frank Newport, the director of the Gallup Poll shrugged off this fairly gross inconsistency by saying "differences were inevitable in two polls conducted simultaneously but were within the margin of error." With a 4% MoE, the tracking poll result putting Obama ahead 48% to 40% is compatible with a 44% to 44% tie (each score has a range of +/- 4%). The national poll showing McCain ahead 49% to 45% is compatible with a true underlying 45% to 45% tie. Thus if the two of them are actually tied, these results might have been obtained by random sampling error. If Obama really was ahead by 8%, then the national poll would almost certainly not have shown McCain ahead by 4%.
Why the difference? The tracking poll surveyed registered voters and the national poll counted only "likely" voters, but other pollsters publish both numbers from time to time and the difference is typically a few percent, never 12%. Chances are Gallup's screen for likely voters rejected many more Obama supporters than McCain supporters (e.g., because the the McCain supporters answered yes to questions like: Did you vote in 2006? Did you vote in 2004? Did you vote in 2002? etc. and Obama's voters didn't). But the race may be tightening as Rasmussen's tracking poll has Obama ahead 45% to 42%. Still, this is a very strange and suspicious result.
The essence of the Obama campaign is to register 10 million new voters. If these people are polled, they are probably going to fail the "likely voter" screen, which asks questions about their voting behavior in previous elections (for people over 20 at least). The pollsters are going to have to deal with this sooner or later.
Veneman is out. Kaine is in. The Veep boomlet of the day today is for Virginia's Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Barack Obama is thought to be friends with Kaine and he reinforces the idea of change, but the only concrete quality he brings to the ticket is a better shot at winning Virginia, but that is no small thing, with its 13 electoral votes. He might also help in neighboring North Carolina. If Obama picks Kaine, who will be the first to have a campaign button reading "Yes we Kaine"? But once again, both candidates are interviewing a half dozen or more people. Getting a job interview doesn't mean you get the job. If it does end up being Obama/Kaine vs. McCain/Romney, it would definitely be Team Change vs. Team Experience.
As if Sen. Ted. Stevens (R-AK) didn't have enough problems with a well-funded opponent (Anchorage mayor Mark Begich) and the IRS and FBI chasing him, he has a new problem: a rich primary opponent. Businessman Vic Vickers just bought $410,000 worth of TV and radio ads to skewer Stevens for corruption. While Vickers has no chance of defeating Stevens in the primary, $410,000 is a lot of money in the Alaska media markets and all that attacking will soften Stevens up for Begich in the general election. DSCC chairman Chuck Schumer should send Vickers a thank you note.
House candidates are busy raising money for the Fall campaign. In a historical reversal, 9 of the top 10 best-funded challengers are Democrats, topped by businessman Jim Himes (D) who is trying to knock off the only Republican congressman left in all of New England, Chris Shays in CT-04. The usual pattern is rich Republican businessmen challenging Democratic politicians, but here it is reversed. Himes has a good chance because Connecticut is a very Democratic state and Shays barely survived in 2006 against a poorly funded challenger. CQ Politics has the story.
Politicians love kissing babies. But delivering babies? And for free? Buying votes is illegal whether you offer cash or services that are normally paid for. But this hasn't stopped Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), an obstetrician who has a relationship with the Muskogee Regional Medical Center (a private clinic) from doing so in his spare time, when he isn't tying the Senate in knots with his many holds (which prevent many routine bills from being passed). The Senate is threatening to censure Coburn over the freebie babies. Coburn responded that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) made a cameo appearance in "The Dark Knight." Leahy received $2000 for his role but immediately donated all the money to a children's library in Vermont.
Rasmussen, like all the other pollsters, conducts many kinds of polls other than political ones. Here's a poll on what Americans think of the Olympics. 34% of Americans think the U.S. will win the most gold medals; 21% don't think so; 45% are undecided. Rasmussen asked many other Olympic Questions as well.
No state polls today. We're in the summer doldrums.
-- The Votemaster