News from the Votemaster
An astounding 86% of the people believe that gas will cost $5 a gallon by year's end. Gas prices are already starting to have a major impact in such areas as vacation planning, free pizza delivery, air travel, and SUV sales. The effect on the election is not known yet, but historically, when people are worried about bread-and-butter issues, it helps the Democrats.
Barack Obama is beginning to get his post-nomination bump. Gallup has him leading John McCain 48% to 42% and Rasmussen has him ahead 50% to 44% (counting leaners). Every nominee gets a post nomination bump. The real test is whether it is still there in a month.
Now that we have two presidential nominees, it is time to begin speculating about the Veep. The choice of Vice President is a very strange election as there is only one voter--the presidential nominee. It is amazing that people stand for this actually. It would be far more logical to have multiple names put in nomination and have the convention delegates vote on them. But that has only been done once in recent times, in 1956, when Adlai Stevenson allowed the Democratic convention to choose the Veep. Be that as it may, some of the choices have been quite conventional (the person who came in second) and others have been out of the blue. It is hard to forecast what the one voter will do. Nevertheless, some inspection of the past shows that senators, governors, and representatives are common choices. Here are the tickets for the past 60 years.
Let's take a look at some of the choices, year by year. In 2004, John Kerry picked John Edwards, one of his defeated rivals, despite what the NY Post thought. George Bush picked his incumbent Veep, Dick Cheney.
In 2000, Al Gore picked a fellow senator who was not even running for President, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT). Lieberman was an odd choice since he came from a small state that any Democrat automatically wins. Some pundits labeled this as a "bold choice" because Lieberman is an orthodox Jew. Because he is very public about his belief in God, he was surprisingly popular with evangelical voters. This choice definitely came out of the blue; nobody was expecting it. George Bush's choice was even more surprising. Bush assigned old Washington hand Dick Cheney the job of vetting the Veep candidates. Apparently nobody passed muster since Bush ultimately chose Cheney himself. At the time that was hailed as a smart move since he had held various positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations and then served five terms in the House representing Wyoming. Since then, some people have changed their minds about Cheney, but at the time nobody would have predicted the nod going to Cheney.
In 1996, incumbent President Bill Clinton picked incumbent Vice President Al Gore. It worked in 1992 so why not try again? Bob Dole picked a relatively unknown former congressman from NY and and former cabinet secretary Jack Kemp. Kemp had run for President in 1988 and not done especially well, but conservatives liked his ideology ("tax cuts are good; more tax cuts are better"). he also provided some geographic balance for the Kansas senator. Dole had plenty of other choices, though, including defeated rivals Gov. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), and Gov. Pete Wilson (R-CA). Only Dole and Liddy Dole (now senator from North Carolina) know the real reasons he picked Kemp. It was not an inspired choice and with a stronger Veep he might have done better.
In 1992, Bill Clinton picked another southerner, Al Gore. This went against the conventional wisdom that you shouldn't have two people from the same region on the ticket. But the two of the clearly liked each other and got along well and maybe the synergy helped. George H.W. Bush picked his incumbent Vice President, Dan Quayle.
In 1988, Michael Dukakis picked Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX), quickly dubbed the Boston-Austin ticket. It was widely compared to the 1960 Kennedy-Johnson ticket. Bentsen was an experienced heavyweight and often appeared more presidential than Dukakis himself. He was chosen largely in the hope of bringing in Texas, which he failed to do. He had one notable moment though, during the Vice Presidential debate in which his opponent Dan Quayle compared himself to President Kennedy. Bentsen retorted: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." That shut Quayle up and is probably the most famous line from any Vice Presidential debate. George Bush's choice of Sen. Dan Quayle (R-IN) was certainly strange. It balanced the ticket but Quayle was a lightweight who brought in no new state and no special experise in anything. He was widely ridiculed during the campaign.
In 1984, Walter Mondale made a bold choice in Geraldine Ferraro, a NY representative and the first (and so far, only) woman on a major party national ticket. He could have chosen one of the defeated presidential candidates such as Sen. John Glenn (D-OH) or Sen. Gary Hart (D-CO) but his choice of Ferraro certainly got a lot of attention. Her husband's tax returns caused the ticket a lot of grief. Choosing a woman was certainly a bold choice, but Ferraro might not have been the right woman. Ronald Reagan chose his incumbent Veep, George H.W. Bush.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter chose his incumbent Vice President, Walter Mondale. Ronald Reagan chose one of his defeated rivals, George H.W. Bush. Bush was a safe choice since he had demonstrated his vote-getting ability and he a resume as long as your arm (WWII naval officer, successful businessman, congresssman, ambassador to the U.N., envoy to China, director of the CIA, and more). He certainly helped Reagan, who knew little about national politics. In a way, his election foreshadowed the 2000 election, in which Bush's son, who knew even less about national politics than Reagan, also chose a long-time Washington hand as Veep. The main difference was that after George H.W. Bush was elected Vice President, he understood that his main duty was to call the White House at 9 A.M. to see if the President was still alive, and if so, could take the day off. Many people believe that Cheney is co-president, if not more.
This is enough for one day. To be continued tomorrow.
A poll in Wisconsin shows the general election to be quite close there. Wisconsin will be a battleground state. South Carolina is an easy win for McCain.
A surprising Senate poll shows Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to be in a close race with Republican Dick Zimmer who just won the nomination, but this could be due to his post-nomination bounce. Lautenberg has been in the Senate for a long time and New Jersey is a Democratic state. The new Rasmussen poll puts Lautenberg ahead of Zimmer 45% to 44%, a statistical tie. A new poll in Alaska shows challenger Mark Begich (D) ahead of the incumbent, Sen. Ted Stevens, 51% to 44%. This will be a very competitive race. In Texas, Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-TX) leads challenger Rick Noriega (D) 52% to 35%.
A rare House poll has a very interesting result. In KY-03, Rep. John Yarmuth is way ahead of former congresswoman Anne Northup 57% to 40%. After three special elections (in IL-14, LA-06, and MS-01) in which Democrats won seats long held by Republicans, a lot of Republicans were wondering (fearing) what was going to happen in close districts. Although Kentucky as a whole is very Republican, KY-03 is evenly split and the first indication is that in evenly split districts, there could be Democratic landslides. Now it is still very early in the season, but this is not a good omen for Republicans. Yarmuth and Northup ran against each other in 2006, when Yarmuth won his seat by 3%.
-- The Votemaster