What If It’s the OTHER Reality?


Conor P. Williams

Conor Williams on Twitter. More background here.

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357 Responses

  1. Avatar Will Truman says:

    This is one of those times I feel like an alien. I don’t know how you can look at these polls and derive with such certainty that your guy is winning that the opposite result shakes your foundation.

    Further, the election results are likely to be sufficiently close that it would be foolish to look at these results – win or lose – without looking sharply at what you can do to increase your voteshare. I mean, in 2008, Obama’s victory was so comfortable that they might have had reason to believe that they had a solid and winnable coalition. In the likely event he wins this time, the Democrats still need to be asking themselves hard questions. If Romney pulls out a victory, Republicans need to be doing the same. (Their victory in 2004, which was likely larger than the margin this year will be, was taken by the Republicans to believe that they had a 51/49 nation. Subsequent events reveal what a weak foundation that is. McCain would have lost with or without the economic meltdown.)Report

  2. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    Pretty simple, from the Democratic / Liberal perspective. We’ll blame ourselves for the same reasons we blamed ourselves for the 2010 beating we took.

    1. Reckless promises. Big problem for us. If we could get some bipartisan agreement, even half a loaf, we could keep the majority of our promises. Sorta difficult to explain away GOP intransigence, even if it’s the actual reason for why we can’t keep those promises.

    2. Intramural bickering. The GOP has done a good job of staying on message. Democrats haven’t. Look at the way Obamacare got passed: we ended up having to give that filthy hog Dorgan a big exemption and that’s not the only disgusting dingleberry hanging from the ass-end of such far-reaching legislation.

    3. Philosophical resignation. The nation calls upon the Democrats to clean up after the GOP’s binges. We pick up the broken glass and wet-vac the vomit out of the carpets and when our job is done, it’s time for the GOP to have another big party.Report

  3. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    At this point I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if Romney won. Nate Silver’s model has been based on state polling. As of today state polling is no longer looking good for Obama, with Romney actually ahead one point in Michigan and Pennsylvania looking very close.

    If Romney does win, my explanation will be that the first debate gave him a chance to make himself seem a lot less ridiculous than his nonsensical policies (cut taxes, increase military spending, but reduce the deficit; offend any country we don’t like on principle) and constant flip-flopping make him. Obama had things pretty much settled before that. Which is kind of sad; if he loses because of those few hours on TV, he’ll spend the rest of his life kicking himself over it.Report

    • Avatar John C. in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Just for the record, there is one poll from Friday that shows Romney ahead by one in Michigan. A Rasmussen poll from Thursday has Obama +5, and a PPP poll from yesterday has Obama +6. The average of these polls (including the one that shows Romney up by 1) is O+3.3, which is very close to the RCP average of O+3.8. It’s one wild leap from this data to “Romney is ahead in Michigan.”

      Pennsylvania is close? There is, again, one recent poll that shows the race tied. That poll is by Tribune-Review/Susquehanna. For context, their last poll showed Obama only up two prior to the first debate. No other poll at that time showed a margin of less than six, and most had the lead around 9-1o at that time. If you look at the RCP history of polls, the only poll in 2012 that showed Romney ahead in PA was by (you guessed it) Tribune-Review/Susquehanna. No other poll in the last four weeks, including two released since the T-R/S poll, has the margin less than O+3 (the two more recent polls show O+3 and O+6).

      You can look this stuff up. I did.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to John C. says:

        You can look this stuff up. I did.

        Yes, but I’d much rather panic.Report

        • Avatar Morzer in reply to KatherineMW says:

          State polling looks overwhelmingly good for Obama – and even the national trackers are starting to fall into line. The vast majority of polls in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania show the president with decent to good leads. The GOP are so obviously desperate that they’ve been reduced to blatant attempts to suppress the vote in Ohio and Florida, to name the most obvious examples. Recognizing these facts has nothing to do with the far Left, despite the writer’s lazy indulgence in a little bit of hippie-punching.Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Morzer says:

            Voter suppression in Ohio is looking extremely serious, and the GOP isn’t even trying to be subtle about it.

            If Silver’s right and Obama can win in Virginia and Colorado, Ohio won’t be the deciding state and things could go fairly simply. If it does come down to Ohio, we could have another 2000 on our hands or worse.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

          Panicking because of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy seems… kinda funny, when you stop and think about it.
          (not that I really think Scaife’s been pushing his finger on the polls).Report

  4. Avatar Pyre says:

    Given what happened after the debate in which one or another candidate lost, I predict:

    a) If my side wins: gloating, claims of mandate, mockery of the other side. half-hearted “make me look good” pleas to put the most venomous election in U.S. history aside and work together.

    b) If my side loses: bitterness, claims of race/class warfare, self-reassurance posts, stiffening of resolve to never reach across the aisle

    c) If either side wins: discussions of where the electoral college failed, embittered notions that the Union is a poor investment and the Soviets had the right idea in 1989-1991, a vaguely uneasy feeling that we elected our President with memes rather than policy, sinking disappointment with ourselves for treating this election with all the seriousness that we treat “Lindsey Lohan is drunk” stories, feelings of failure for proving that all the stuff we say to kids about honesty, fair play, and getting along with others is a load of crap that we just say.

    d) a third party wins: … I’d have to rethink math itself.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater says:

    No Obama doesn’t win, I think I’d go to the exit polls first off. If the exit polls are consistent with the final vote counts, then everything’s hunky dorry. If not, then we’ve got another one of those very intriguing situations where the established reliability of exit polls and pre-elections polls are contradicted by election day voting behavior. (I still haven’t heard a good explanation of how the pre-election and post-election exit polling were so radically off in Florida and Ohio among other states in previous elections…. puzzling, is what it is.)

    So, if Romney wins, and all the available data is consistent with that, then I’d have to say it was a lack of GOTV on the part of Dems coupled with the media blitz of the GOP.

    {{I apologize for this sounding so conspiratorial, but that’s where I’m at on it.)Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Stillwater says:

      I don’t think we ever got a satisfactory explanation why the exit polls were off in the Obama v H Clinton contest in New Hampshire either, as much as 10 points. Sometimes these things just happen, I think.Report

  6. Avatar George Turner says:

    If Romney loses it will just establish what conservatives already knew in their hearts, that half the American population is of below-average intelligence.

    There, this thread is much better now. ^_^

    Actually I never liked Romney as a candidate, probably for the same reflexive reasons most people don’t. The look, the history, gravitas, etc. He comes off like a the world’s greatest vacuum cleaner salesman. But Chris Christie wasn’t ready to jump in, Jeb Bush stayed out, W can’t run again, the Bush daughters are too young, Richard Nixon didn’t have a son, John Bolton’s mustache wanted to stay out of the fray, Tom Selleck’s mustache got shaved off, and Bruce Willis was tied up with “A Good Day to Die Hard”, so here we are.

    Given the fundamentals of the economy, the unemployment rate, the doubling of the gap between white net worth and black net worth, my orange cat should crush Obama in a one-to-one contest, but I couldn’t get her on the ticket. That’s unfortunate, because I think she’s someone American’s could rally behind and her vacations would never go further than the Rose Garden.

    So this is an election of missed opportunities.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

      The GOP never misses a chance to miss a chance. It’s not like they don’t have viable candidates. But their vetting process always ensures the dumbest among them gets the nod.

      Look at Grimace McCrankypants. Bomb, bomb Iran. And before him, Bush the Dumber. Well, times were good and as I’ve said, the country was going apeshit and jollifying itself and generally building up for the Deregulatory Megachoke of 2008. But we can’t blame that on the Republicans, oh no. That’s out of bounds. Likewise the War on Iraq and the Mushroom Clouds of Mass Destruction Saddam was sposta be threat’ning us with, etc. None of that matters. The Dumbocrats were sposta clean all that up in jig time, without any help from the people who made that mess.

      So, true to form, the GOP has given its imprimatur to that reptile Romney, who’s so desperate to get elected it’s painful to watch. That bozo would say anything to anyone. And as with Bush the Dumber, a good many people just will go on believing such nonsense.Report

    • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to George Turner says:

      “If Romney loses it will just establish what conservatives already knew in their hearts, that half the American population is of below-average intelligence.”

      Just look at your comment: “I don’t like Romney, but he’s not Obama, and I hate Obama because of GOP, GOP and GOP.” Not exactly a sign of brilliance, ya know.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to George Turner says:

      That would be the half that votes for Romney that is below average intelligence, right?Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to George Turner says:

      Huntsman was a candidate.
      I could vote for Huntsman.
      (would probably still vote for Obama, but it would be on policy,
      not on “oh my god, putin is gonna strange this Mofo”)Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    the conservative outrage machine

    Exactly. As long as that remains an accurate description of the major right-leaning media, this country is fished.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    2008 was an election where had the Republicans would have lost had they nominated Zombie Reagan with his running mate Zombie Eisenhower (or vice-versa).

    This election is not like 2008.

    It is, however, like 2004… that is, the president *IS* beatable. While he’s done some things that are wildly popular with the mushy middle of his base, he’s done some things to tick off the crazy people at the fringe and a handful of things to tick off “undecided voters”… and, more importantly, just been the guy ostensibly in charge of the country when some ugly stuff happened that would have happened no matter who was in charge.

    The big mistake the Democrats made back in 2004 was to turn the election into a referrendum on Iraq and *SOMEBODY* decided that the best way to attack Bush would be to call him a draft dodger and bring this trait out into the fore by nominating John Freaking Kerry as their Vietnam Veteran Presidential Nominee. (I’ve said before, I’ll say again, Gephardt or Dean or both would have won all of the states that Kerry won and, on top of that, we’d be able to have discussions about Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, and Iowa).

    Anyway, in a weird piece of synchronicity, the Republicans have decided to run a fairly unlikable North-Easterner to see if they have any better luck.

    Despite some efforts to go a different direction, the election feels like a referendum on Obama more than anything else. So… my predictions for either side:

    If the Republicans win, Democrats will explain that it’s because of racism of the American People re-manifesting itself. It’ll be because Republicans successfully suppressed the vote. It’ll be because of the homophobic backlash against Obama’s support for gay marriage. It’ll be because the American People never truly understood the PPACA. The arguments will swing outward and if there is acknowledgment of anything like how disspiriting some people find drone attacks or dispensary raids, the arguments will blame the people for not liking these things to the point where they just didn’t vote (“what? did those stupidheads think that Romney would be better on marijuana???”)

    If Democrats win, Republicans will explain that it’s because Romney was such a liberal candidate, did so many socially liberal things as governor that the evangelicals didn’t trust him to be good on abortion nor protecting traditional family values. He never connected with the tea parties despite Ryan. He never connected with hawks and/or military families either. Romney failed to make people want to “Vote For Romney”… he merely was the other option when people didn’t want to vote for Obama. “They were calling *ROMNEY* an extreme conservative! ROMNEY!!!! If we’re going to be tarred with that brush even when we nominate someone as squishy and centrist as ROMNEY, we’d be better off just nominating Jeb Bush in 2016!!!!” There will be no mention of the Republican Senators who kept popping up yelling about rape and abortion. There will be no mention of the country’s tentative support of gay marriage.

    Short version: Democrats will blame The American People if they lose, Republicans will blame Romney… but both will be wrong because both parties seem to be trying their damnedest to lose.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      Here’s something to think about if Romney wins:

      Does he really strike you as a two-term kinda guy? (He sure as hell doesn’t strike me as one.)Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird says:

        Whoda thunk Bush43 would get two terms?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Pre-9/11, I was sure he was a one-termer. Post-9/11, I was sure that he would be bulletproof come election day… and that waned until I saw that Kerry was nominated.

          The day after the election, however, I said that the Democrats have 2008 sewn up. Hell, they have 2006 sewn up.

          So I’ll say this: barring something about the size of 9/11, the party that wins this election will not win the next one.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’m not sure about that. If ROmney wins, I think he might get back in. The economy will get better, and that’s the biggest thing. But he might pass some compromise legislation with Dems (cuz that’s the only type of legislation that can be passed!) that tilts things enough into the middle that come 0-16′ that he’s in a pretty good political as well as policy place. It’s not impossible. Of course, if he lets the TP faction of the GOP run roughshod over the legislative process, then nothing is gonna get done, and that’ll make him look like a stooge.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              One thing that bugs me about Obama is that he doesn’t have an obvious successor. Now, how important is that? I dunno. It worked for Reagan, failed (for small values of “failed”) for Clinton. In 1984, the day after the election, if you asked “who is going to run for President on the R ticket in 88?”, everybody and his brother knew that Bush would overcome a token resistence by Buchanan to run in the next election. Hell, the same in 1996. Everybody knew that Gore would win the nomination in a walk.

              Let’s say Obama wins come Tuesday.

              Who do the Democrats run come ’16? It ain’t Biden.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Hillary, obvs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                That’s less obvious to me. I’m pretty sure it (the nomination) is hers if she wants it… I’m just uncertain about that last part.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, Obama hasn’t shooken up his cabinet in any really politically significant way as yet. If he picks a different VP (because Biden needs to spend more time with his family), that might be a signal of the Chosen Successor. If Hilary feel like she needs to spend more time with her family about 18 months into the term, that might signal something as well. And then there’re the Governors. Our is a pretty good candidate. I think people would like Hick at the national level, if he has aspirations for that sort of thing.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                Isn’t hillary leaving after obama’s first term?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Stillwater says:

                Yeah Hillary is reputedly resigning as Sec of State for Obama’s second term (if it happens). Ostensibly this is to rest, get some personal time and write a book. She’s also publicly stated she doesn’t want to run in 2016.

                That said, if she DID want the presidency in 2016 then the ideal thing for her to do would be to… resign as Sec of State, write a book and publicly disavow interest in running while her allies built up a “Draft Clinton for ’16” movement.

                She’d certainly be formidible in the primaries in ’16.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Stillwater says:

                The problem is that she would be 69 by then. Certainly not the oldest candidate to ever run, but there are going to be some younger folks lining up that year, especially if Obama gets a second term. It’s wide-open then. Although I have no clue who else the Dems would have waiting in the wings.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                I believe her. Odds are she won’t have her husband by then, which would be both a blessing and a curse, but mostly bad.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

                President of the United States is not a hereditary title.

                (Unless your last name is Bush or — we’ll know in 2016 — Clinton.)Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                If Bush had won in ’92, who was his successor? Not Quayle.

                I always thought McCain in ’00, because the rest of them were loonies, the same way that this time I knew loony-of-the-month would eventually give way to Mitt.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                (McCain in ’08, of course.)Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Well, Romney was one of those loonies. McCain won because he was everyone’s second choice, and no one could agree on the first choice.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

                At one point, McCain was the everybody’s fourth choice.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Kolohe says:

                Romney was one of those loonies.

                And he’s now the least bad of an even worse bunch.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

                “who is going to run for President on the R ticket in 88?”, everybody and his brother knew that Bush would overcome a token resistence by Buchanan to run in the next election.

                Bush Sr’s nomination in ’88 wasn’t the pro forma thing Gore’s was in ’00. (Remember ‘Battling the Wimp factor’?) (and Buchanan didn’t run in that one, Pat Robertson did)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        If I had any idea what kind of president he’ll try to be, I might have some idea if he’d be good at that.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

        As I said in my post earlier this week, I think he absolutely will be a two-termer.Report

        • I think you’re right.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          If Obama wins, I expect a sharp uptick in the use of the word “secession” by the far right. And, of course, the ensuing increase in the use of the phrase “let them go” by the far left. While I’m of the opinion that the US will not remain intact for more than another 50 years (yes, I know that puts me out on a lunatic fringe), the fact that the red/blue split is actually a rural/urban split makes a split along current red state/blue state lines unworkable.Report

          • This is not the position where I expected my secession comment to appear, so no one in this particular thread should take offense. I blame it on the dog, who doesn’t understand daylight savings time, and insisted that I be up and doing things.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Michael Cain says:

            No offense taken but largely out of curiosity:

            1. Why do you think the U.S. will break up within 50 years?

            2. Based on your urban/rural observation, how do you think the break-up will proceed?

            3. Will there be brief periods of joining together for “old-times sake”?Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to NewDealer says:

              I see it as an east/west split, with the 11 contiguous western states leaving (and the East willing to let them go). A largely deserted Great Plains — a long-term and now accelerating trend — provides a 500-mile wide buffer between the two parts. Energy is one of the main contributors. Long-haul transportation will have been reduced significantly. Electricity supplies will be the final straw. The East has to address some serious problems that the West doesn’t (or at least not to the same degree). In 2010 75% of generation in the Eastern Interconnect was from aging nukes and coal (EIA numbers for 2011 should be available this month). Eastern renewable resources are significantly worse in quality and quantity than western renewables. There are a number of issues that pull the West together because they’re just different than the East: federal land holdings, water, fire…

              Or alternatively, just consider where the two populations are focused in an energy-constrained future. The natural anchor for the 11 western states is California. The anchor for 36 of the other contiguous states is the BosWash urban corridor. And Texas is its own thing. The advertising slogan “It’s like a whole ‘nother country” may come true.

              In its entirety, it’s a long complicated story. I’m working on a book.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Why would California leave? And in 50 years, Texas will be majority minority — as it is, Texas has some very blue cities and it’s only gonna spread. (We do apologize for exporting the crazy. Especially Tom Delay. We apologize).

                The South is really the outlier, in terms of not fitting in with the rest of the country. In the traditional red/blue colors — the NE is blue, the west coast is blue, the south is deep red, and everywhere else is pretty purple.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Morat20 says:

                Texas’ major cities are almost all blue: Houston, Dallas in the city, El Paso, Austin, San Antonio. The only real outlier is Fort Worth.

                Texas’ Republicans, recognizing the demographic trends, set things up so that when the demographics begin to really shift, they’ll still be able to maintain dominance for a while based on the way the districts are drawn. But it’s only a matter of time before the GOP either makes real inroads with the state’s Hispanic population or begins to lose the state. I assume it will make some inroads, and lose the state by a bit. If the Democrats have Texas, the electoral math becomes really tricky for Republicans.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Chris says:

                There’s a reason a lot of people have been saying this is the last election the GOP has a shot at winning based on just the white vote.

                There’s a lot of tipping points built into the GOP coalition, but I think that’s sorta part of being conservative in the old sense — you’re slow to change, even when the world changes around you. (There are good and bad things to that).

                Anti-gay animus has to go, or you’ll lose the young of any color. Immigration issues have to be massively tempered, because hispanics are a growing block of voters.

                On the bright side, I doubt hippy punching will ever grow old. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

      If Obama loses Democrats will say it’s because the economy wasn’t good enough.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Jaybird says:

      Semi-serious question as a native of the Northeast and proud of my home region:

      Does the rest of America have a thing against the Northeast on principal? What’s wrong with the Northeast?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer says:

        Some people have a problem with “taxachussetts”.
        AFAIK, Romney’s not really a northeastern guy (no more than Ford would have been from the Midatlantic). Call him from Michigan, call him from Utah. Either’s more accurate.Report

  9. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    As for the polls, the whole hubbub is about how to weight them, how many Dems there are. 2008 was D+12 acc to Gallup, now it could be even.*

    In answer to your question about this particular election, Conor, I think Obama’s on a pass, sorry. I like Mitt, a B+ candidate. But I don’t think Ronald Hisself Reagan would do much better against The Mule, a freak of nature and demographics, and not another one in sight. His re-election would signify Not Much–especially if he’s cost his party 12 points in the party preference column since 2008. Frinstance, Congress will likely look similar to 2010, which was very good to the GOP.

    *The largest changes in the composition of the electorate compared with the last presidential election concern the partisan affiliation of voters. Currently, 46% of likely voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 54% in 2008. But in 2008, Democrats enjoyed a wide 12-point advantage in party affiliation among national adults, the largest Gallup had seen in at least two decades. More recently, Americans have been about as likely to identify as or lean Republican as to identify as or lean Democratic. Consequently, the electorate has also become less Democratic and more Republican in its political orientation than in 2008. In fact, the party composition of the electorate this year looks more similar to the electorate in 2004 than 2008.


    • Not interested in litigating the accuracy of polls in this thread. That’s been done ad nauseum—indeed, the ambiguity there is precisely what makes this OP possible. If you’re interested in that, maybe check these Very Serious People at Princeton whose professional reputations largely depend on correctly judging the polls:


      • It’s interwoven, Conor, the “wildly different” realities.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          One statistically demonstrated, another that denies “statistics”.Report

        • If you can find a fellow interlocutor, go for it. I’m not him/her.

          Meanwhile, the premise of this post is that there are a number of partisans on each side who are convinced that their guy is likely to win by a substantial margin. One side is going to find out that they’re wrong. That will require them to come up with some sort of explanation for how their polls were so wrong.Report

          • Yes, and you were given the rationale from the red side, Conor. Peace.

            One might also note that McCain’s loss wasn’t particularly mourned on the right. There was a general acknowledgement the GOP had it coming. This time is different though. The only explanation would lie in the 47% theory or as GBS put it

            “A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul
            can be assured of the support of Paul.”

            Me, I just might say screw it and join the 47% meself.Report

            • Avatar DBrown in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              You don’t have the strength of character to be in that group – soldiers fighting on the line; people who slaved all their lives working in tough jobs (even two jobs) and now are retired; and people currently slaving at low to min wage jobs with no benefits or any paid leave and are forced to work unpaid overtime – these make up most of the 47%. That’s right, you have the delusion that it is all welfare ‘steak’ eating black males? Wrong again – most people on welfare are white CHILDREN; try learning facts instead of the propaganda that you are spoon feed by your 0.01% betters.Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          It’s not denying statistics, it’s more fundamental. If you called every single person in the land and asked them how they’d vote, there’s no statistics involved at all, just simple counting. You’re still not going to get more than 4% accuracy because people aren’t that accurate in predicting their own behavior, and they act more like crowds than ideal gases, which is why you can choose any poll you want and watch the graph swing up and down and up and down like an audio waveform, based on spontaneous events like funny tweets or a bizarre news item.

          Things like Nate Silver’s analysis is amusing because it’s like a meteorologist saying there’s a 72.935% chance of rain, and yet weather forecasts aren’t trying to predict fleeting and transitory opinions, they’re trying to predict the outcome of an application of the laws of physics.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

            Except that the track record of pre-polling and exit-polling had been an indisputable and unquestioned indicator of election results until … recently.

            Why are they suddenly so unreliable? Reliable even outside the margin of error?

            I think that’s the question that even Yoda couldn’t answer.Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

            Yeah, that’s why Dewey crushed Truman, and why Nate Silver botched his 2010 prediction. Their track record is considered good when they get within about 4%.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to George Turner says:

              Ah, sorry to stick reality in here again, but –

              “Nate Silver’s 2010 track record:
              He correctly predicted 34/36 Senate seats whose outcomes were resolved by November 4, 2010
              He predicted a net gain of 54 seats in the House for Republicans (the House actually gained 63 Republicans)
              Nate correctly predicted the outcome in 36 of 37 gubernatorial elections

              Importantly, even the elections that Nate got wrong were with in his published margins of error — i.e., the candidate was projected to get 50.5% of the vote +/- 1.5%, but got 49.5%; it’s technically ‘wrong’ (wrong candidate won), but still a very good prediction. Really, the best measure of Silver’s accuracy would be to compare how often reality fell within his margin of error bars; better yet, how often reality fell within his error margins compared to others.”Report

            • “and why Nate Silver botched his 2010 prediction”

              Yeah, he really stunk up the joint.Report

            • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

              “Nate Silver’s 2010 track record:
              He correctly predicted 34/36 Senate seats whose outcomes were resolved by November 4, 2010

              Anybody here could successfully predict all but a few Senate races, because only a few Senate races are ever in much doubt. ”

              Feinstein wins. McConnell wins. *zips through about thirty races where everyone of us predicts exactly the same outcome*

              If we had a pool, the biggest loser would get 32 of 36 right and the winner would get 36 of 36, 35 of 36 at the outside. Basically, we’d only be guessing on about six of the 36 races, and the monkey score on six guesses is 3, so 33/36 is the score to beat – a monkey.

              There’s an old saying. “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, blind them with BS.”Report

              • Pretty much, George. This guy duplicated Silver’s formula with a few bucks worth of software.

                [T]he FiveThirtyEight model is a complete slave to state polls. When state polls are accurate, FiveThirtyEight looks amazing. But when state polls are incorrect, FiveThirtyEight does quite poorly. That’s why my very simple model and Silver’s very fancy model produce remarkably similar results — they rely on the same data. Garbage in, garbage out.

                So what happens if state polls are incorrect?

                In 2008, the RealClearPolitics polling average was incorrect in two states — Indiana and North Carolina. Silver botched Indiana but correctly called North Carolina.

                In 2010, it was much worse. State polling averages were wrong in Alaska (they said Joe Miller would be elected), wrong in Colorado (they said Ken Buck would be elected), and embarrassingly wrong in Nevada (they said Harry Reid would be involuntarily retired). FiveThirtyEight incorrectly forecast the winner in each of those states, perfectly reflecting the inaccurate information contained in the state polls.

                Thus, of the five major state races in which polls were wrong over the last four years, Silver only got one right. I’m no baseball scout, but batting .200 when it counts won’t get you into the big leagues, let alone the All-Star game.

                Silver has made a big deal this election cycle about how state polls are generally more accurate at forecasting the winner of the Electoral College and the popular vote than are national polls. That may well be true, although a Monte Carlo simulation of the final week’s worth of Florida polls in 2000 suggests otherwise…[blockquote]

                Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/01/is-nate-silvers-value-at-risk/#ixzz2BJO6MAcs

                See also


              • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Darndest thing.

                The first article you link to mention’s Taleb’s ‘The Black Swan’, and I’ll be darned if I haven’t been thinking about his work on uncertainty the whole time I’ve been watching people squabble over polling models.

                Naturally, US elections are not black swan events. They are, however, moving systems with a lot of parts. We should never be surprised when a model that has been designed to backcast fails to accurately forecast the behaviour of such a system.

                Doesn’t mean Obama is going to lose, of course, or that this uncertainty should make Republicans feel comfortable about their chances. For all we know a larger than expected Obama victory is in the offing.

                As a final point, anyone touting Silver’s infallibility should be aware of how badly he and 538 cocked up their prediction of the British election in 2010.Report

              • Aye, all of the above.Report

              • Avatar DBrown in reply to George Turner says:

                Again – you appear to know little on this topic and seem to understand even less – Silver got the vote numbers within his error bars; either you or most anyone else could do that. Try learning what statistics means and how probabilities are calculated.Report

              • Avatar DRS in reply to DBrown says:

                Again – you appear to know little on this topic and seem to understand even less…

                That’s a feature, not a bug.Report

            • Avatar LarryM in reply to George Turner says:

              Here’s the thing. It’s possible to argue that Silver overestimates Obama’s chances. But you are making bad arguments.

              (1) The fact that he relies heavily on state polls is no secret and no accident. They are usually right. Not always, but usually. Saying he does poorly in those few cases where the state polls are wrong … doesn’t tell us much.

              (2) A real critique of Silver needs to do one of two things, neither of which you do:
              (a) Point to another prediction method which does better on a consistent basis, or
              (b) Get down into the specifics of THIS election and talk about why you think the state level polls (and, increasingly, the national polls) are getting it wrong. And people have tried to do this, though the people doing in good faith have assigned Romney around a 40% chance of winning. But if you are going to make that argument, you need to … make that argument. Not just assert it without evidence.

              As for 2010, his Senate record isn’t evidence for or against his model IMO. It’s correct to say that 34/36 is not THAT impressive, given relatively few close races, but it isn’t evidence AGAINST his model either. And his house and governor results were, respectively, good and very good.

              IMO, even I was somewhat persuaded by some of the “state polls “biased” (int he statistical, not colloquial, sense). Until recently, with the national polls and some other polling factors lining up better with the state level data, I’m increasingly optimistic. But even if you buy the Silver model, yes, Romney still as a shot. Even if Silver is “right.”Report

  10. Avatar James Hanley says:

    If your side falls short of the presidency on Tuesday, what reasons will you give? How will you explain what happened?

    It’s clear; if Gary Johnson doesn’t win it will be the consequence of a vast conspiracy.Report

  11. Avatar zic says:

    I’ll blame it on the vast right-wing conspiracy perpetuated on Real Americans™ by the corporate-owned main-stream media, undisclosed political contributions to political action committees only identified by a PO Box in Texas, the candidate wives wearing dresses instead of suits, and Nate Silver’s sexual preferences.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

      Last Presidential, the vast rightwing conspiracy was endorsing hillary. Can we try to keep up with the times?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Kim says:

        Sigh. My funny bone is obviously missing. Time moves through that comment; though I really did skip over the GWB years due to the human tendency to forget most traumatic events.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

          No, I’m just taking a bit of time to make fun of the current Mellon heir.
          Making fun of the current leaders of the Right (the Kochs and their friends) is…
          considerably more difficult.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Kim says:

            Last night, my sweetie said something about the Walton family; I paraphrase, but something to the tune of, “7 people owning 40% of the nation’s wealth.’

            While I don’t know if this is fact, it’s probably enough to accurate, showing we already have Robber Barrons. And we SHOULD make fun of them.

            They can afford it.

            But the Koch brothers. It’s like the ’80’s all over again, but without the big hair.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

              The robber barons were better than these foolz.
              The robber barons understood how to take risks, and what risks would mean to them and everyone else.
              Plus, they actually made their money.
              Since the 1970’s, the superrich have arisen. And they haven’t made their money, just sat on their asses paying someone else to manage their money. Breeds a certain sort of coward, kinda like Mitt Romney.Report

  12. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Wow, great post and great question. And – since I had readers dare me to revisit my early predictions if I ended up being wrong – it’s a question I might well have to answer in a post of its own in about 72 hours.

    That being said, if it turns out I’m wrong than there’s no question the fault will be mine and not the system’s. Much of my prediction was and has been based on my own assumption of group dynamics, which is this:

    If you’re a guy that is

    a. disliked by your party’s base,

    b. distrusted by your party’s base,

    c. embarrasses your party’s base, and

    d. won’t be mentioned by name to you party’s base by that base’s leaders two months before the election for fear they won’t vote/donate/volunteer, then I just don’t see how you can expect to win what is basically a national popularity contest.

    If he does win, then I obviously have to go back and revisit that assumption.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Oops, forgot to really answer the question actually asked. I’ll go with this:

      Obama’s loss is further proof that we throw our kings into the sea when the economy is sufficiently bad. However, I’m sure the far left will point to the billions of dollars in dark money as evidence that this election was bought and paid for by the 1%.


      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        That was so fun I’m going to do it for the other side:

        Romney’s defeat is pretty clear evidence that the MSM ignored all of the stories they should have been covering 24/7 in order to help their pal Obama. And I know that some folks further right than I am are going to start looking into the voter rolls to see how this administration used Chicago-style shenanigans to rig the election before the first vote was even counted.Report

  13. Avatar Ramblin' Rod says:

    If Obama loses I don’t think there’s any great mysteries here.

    First, sober social scientists will tell you that he loses 4 to 5% right out the gate from his skin color. Note: this isn’t Republican racism; any that exist would be expected to vote R anyway. This is racist Democrats, particularly in some of the tighter states in Appalachia. A white version of Obama (says and does the same things, just in a different body) with a more “American” name would be a cake-walk.

    Second, advertising works and Citizens United has resulted in a metric butt-ton of money being spent by rich fucks to unseat him. Size of the effect? Dunno. Obama has raised and spent a lot, too, and there’s evidence that the swing states are over-saturated, but it has to count for something.

    Third, I agree with Stillwater. Polling is very well-developed science. These people really know what they’re doing and they have reputational reasons for very much wanting to get it right. Furthermore, they have very good track records in the last few election cycles. It’s very unlikely that there is any systematic, methodological bias. That being said a lot of these states are VERY close, within the error of margin. So if a consensus has Obama up by 1 or 2 points but the polls have an error of margin of 3 or 4, then it just means that it’s possible, though unlikely, that the true state of reality is a Romney win. With Obama sitting at about a 85% probability of winning, a Romney victory would be… suspicious. Not necessarily indicative of foul play, but worth a looky-see, and certainly fodder for conspiracy theories.

    My worst nightmare, and paradoxically fondest hope, is to see Obama win the EC and lose the popular vote. It might just spur some real movement toward electoral reforms.Report

    • Avatar John C. in reply to Ramblin' Rod says:

      Just a quick note on the concept of being within the “margin of error.” Any one poll has a margin of error, usually around 3-3.5%. But when you start aggregating polls, the margin of error of the aggregate figure rapidly drops. For heavily polled states like FL, OH and VA, the margin of error is much less than 3-3.5%, likely around 1%. This is what Silver means when he indicates that, for Romney to win, we’ve reached the point that the only explanation is that all the polls are flawed, because there is no longer a mathematical overlap between the range of results if the the polls are accurate and “Romney wins.”Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to John C. says:

        As I said upthread, if you actually counted everyone and did a simple sum, you still probably couldn’t beat 4% accuracy because there’s that many people who honestly have no idea how they’re going to vote, and an unknown percentage who aren’t honest with pollsters or themselves, either about their choice or their likelihood to vote.

        The idea that you can aggregate polls that are 4% accurate compared to other polls and get a 1% accuracy for the actual voting, when an actual enumeration prior to voting wouldn’t be that accurate, is highly doubtful. It assumes that the only errors in the polling are sampling errors, and that’s not the case.

        Put another way, the polls usually predict an election to within a few percent. I’m saying that no matter how much you increase the coverage and sample size, polls probably can’t predict a national election closer than a few percent or so, because that’s the fundamental noise level, essentially set by dipwads whose voting habits are about as predictable as where a chicken will poop, no matter how many times you’ve ask them what they’ll do beforehand.

        Put another way, you can watch the aggregated tracking polls swing up a few percentage points up and down in a random fashion, you can’t reliably predict those swings because they’re based on unknown future events, weird things like the mood of a crowd or whether election days is sunny or rainy.

        What would be interesting is to actually measure the error rate inherent in a polling sample by somehow observing the voting-booth behavior of those who were polled to see how many of them voted in accordance with their recorded answers to the pollster. You could ask them afterwards, but you don’t know how many would lie to appear more consistent, or who wouldn’t honestly admit how they’re voting either before or after.

        That might put some bounds on the maximum achievable accuracy of any poll or aggregated polls, and might even provide some insights for further corrections.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

          couldn’t beat 4% accuracy because there’s that many people who honestly have no idea how they’re going to vote, and an unknown percentage who aren’t honest with pollsters or themselves, either about their choice or their likelihood to vote.

          Isn’t this a wash?

          Unless you’re thinking that more people are are inclined to be undecided and/or lying about in voting on one particular direction rather that another?Report

        • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          I’m thinking that in some cases it might cancel out, and in some cases it might not cancel out at all, because it might be as flaky as teens voting for American Idol contestants. Keep in mind that for many of late deciders, they actually are voting in a popularity contest using criteria we can hardly imagine.

          Is Obama’s nose cuter than Romneys? In the 2004 election Bush had a much cuter nose than John Kerry, whereas the McCain/Obama noses were pretty much a toss up. Romney has a pretty huge snoz, and that might hurt him certain demographics.

          One of my housemate’s frequent visitors watched all the debates with us, and we’re pretty sure he’s going to vote exactly the same way as the last person he talked to right before he walked into the polling booth. If it’s a cute girl in an Obama shirt he’ll vote for Obama. If it’s a guy in a Romney hat he’ll vote for Romney. He’s that flaky when it comes to politics. We talk to him all day. Not only do we not know which way he’ll eventually vote, we know that we can’t know which way he’ll vote because he doesn’t have a clue how he’ll vote, either, even when he claims he does. It’s like asking a 13-year old which cheerleader he’s sweet on.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to George Turner says:

            Doesn’t that essentially mean that he can be modeled as a coin toss and be factored out entirely? A collection of 10,000 people who flip back and fort at random should split the vote very evenly down the middle and not affect the outcome at all.

            What we’re looking for is an explanation of why this randomness would skew so strongly as to produce a 4% shift in one direction. That seems staggeringly unlikely to me. I can see a 4% error happening, but it would have to be sampling bias.Report

  14. Avatar MFarmer says:

    If Romney loses it will be because the election was rigged by Democrats. My model, which isn’t as famous as Silver’s model, but way more accurate and reliable, shows Romney winning by a landslide. There’s no way Obama can win without some serious cheating going on. So, if Obama wins, his presdiency will not be legitimate. We can all ignore him, even though we’ll have to allow him to serve his four years. It’s not like Presidents matter, according to Tod — they’re interchangeable doofuses. The only other explanations for an Obama win would be that people feel sorry for him because he looks so thin, ashen and weary, or, like Turner said, the spread of idiocy has reached majority proportions.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

      “My model, which isn’t as famous as Silver’s model, but way more accurate and reliable, shows Romney winning by a landslide.”

      Oh please oh please oh please… will you share this model with us?Report

    • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to MFarmer says:

      Here is the HR number at the NY Times – (212) 556-4080.

      Because if Romney wins in a landslide, they are going to want to talk to you about your own blog.Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to MFarmer says:

      I thought you were being tongue-in-cheek here, but then I took a look at your blog.

      You’re serious. Wow!Report

    • Avatar LarryM in reply to MFarmer says:

      And see, again, this is part of the reason I can’t understand moderates voting for Romney. What’s scary is that Farmer is probably typical of a large slice of the Republican electorate. The Dems don’t really have the equivalent. Oh, sure, there will be some on the left screaming voter fraud if the Republicans win, and I even set forth a scenario where the voter suppression could make the difference. But that segment of the Dem party is smaller and less rabidly crazy.

      So why would anyone, aside from (a) one of the crazies themselves, or (b) a “hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils” conservative, want to enable the loons like Farmer by voting for Romney? I mean, a party where Tom Van Dyke counts as one of the (relatively) sane voices …Report

  15. I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson, so if my side loses, it will be because of massive and unprecedented (since it has actually never happened anywhere) in-person voter fraud by the Democrats, and/or massive manipulation of the results by GOP rigged vote counting machines. Seriously- how else could you explain a loss by the former New Mexico governor since more people i know are voting for him than for anyone else?

    Of course, in reality, if Obama loses it will be because the economy still sucks; if Romney loses, it will be because he is Generic Republican at a time when a good chunk of folks outside the Deep South think (with good reason) that the GOP has lost it’s frickin’ mind.

    Whichever party loses of course will find a way of pretending the results are illegitimate.Report

    • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      If Obama loses, the sucking economy would be my explanation as well.

      For the Republicans, a Romney loss will be Romney’s fault. Republicanism never fails, it is only failed.Report

  16. Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

    I yield to no one in my rabid partisanship, but I am of the opinion that liberalism actually exists only as a very fragile coalition and could easily collapse.

    Plainly put, we have lost the white working class, and a good portion of the ethnic working class as well.

    My thesis is that by yielding to the logic of self-interest, or “rights” instead of “obligations” we-paradoxically- encourage people to vote against their own self interest, if only to preserve their tribal identity.

    Contrary to what many conservatives like to imagine, most peoples self interest does not lead them to loot the Treasury in a welfare orgy, but to play the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and cut their neighbor’s benefits, even if it leads to a long term loss for everyone.

    Community, kinship and altruism; patriotism, and self-sacrifice are incredibly difficult to construct and maintain. Liberals need to change the culture we live in, before we can build a governing majority.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

      One problem with that is that under Obama, the gap in net worth between whites and blacks doubled. If you convinced them to vote according to their economic interests you’d lose them, too. ^_^

      What’s rather interesting is that Republicans always go back to Lincoln to judge their candidates, and Democrats seem to have gone back to Jefferson Davis (their forgotten President). Even though Obama’s track record is about as abysmal as Davis’, Democrats are just as unwilling to either besmirch their President’s character or to fire him as they were then. The cultural norm of never questioning a gentleman’s honor or holding him responsible for his failures was part of the baggage Southerners brought over from England, whereas the Republican Yankees were pragmatic Roundheads who would fire anyone who underperformed and never gave two cents about their honor or reputation.Report

    • Avatar Morzer in reply to LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

      “…we have lost the white working class, and a good portion of the ethnic working class as well”

      Not exactly. Democrats have lost a good chunk of the white SOUTHERN working class. The rest, not so much. That’s what the polls consistently show over the last 20 years.Report

  17. Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    If Obama loses (Khas vesholem!), it will be due to a number of factors:

    1) Ignorance. The belief that somehow, if he’d only tried harder, Obama could have made the economy better (but you can’t blame the bad economy on Bush because of some reason). The GOP, which just the year before was saying that the “Office of the President” has to be respected, regardless of who occupies it, now does everything it can to drag Obama down, including screwing over the economy, but hey, it’s not the Tea Party.

    2) Voter suppression. The laws that the GOP put in place, stating for the record that they were meant to be discriminatory, were voided very close to the election. There may not have been enough time to counter-act these provisions. These acts, combined with other acts of sabotage, may be enough to put Romney over the top.

    3) Tribalism. Folks like George will vote for Romney, HOPING that he presides from the center, but having no true basis in fact. Just because he’s not Obama, and Obama is bad because… well, he just IS, OK?

    The triumph of stupid and evil — men (almost always men) saying things they KNOW aren’t true, and the populace, too complacent to check (and with a media that feeds the complacency), voting based on ignorance.


    I have not seen one word on this blog indicating why someone should vote for Romney. Not one. You should vote because he’s not Obama. And that’s on one of the most literate and well-informed blogs out there. If we can’t change the mind of Will T, what luck do we have with Joe the Plumber?Report

    • We had two posts. Koz wrote one and Nob wrote one.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Jaybird says:

        And I still feel greasy.Report

        • Don’t worry about it, Brother Nob. It was about as convincing as Samuel L. playing David Duke.

          As for why there are no legit pro-Romney front page posts, you’re kidding, right? What would possibly be the point?Report

          • Avatar George Turner in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I’m pretty sure David Duke supported John Kerry. He was heavily involved in the anti-Iraq War protests in San Francisco and Seattle, using them as a recruiting ground for his movement, pushing the Neocon=Jew angle. Finally someone noticed burrowed down and noticed that two of the protest’s servers were named “David Duke 1” and “David Duke 2.”Report

          • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I love the League, but I have to agree with TVD here.

            Sometimes you guys are so Fair and Balanced ™ that it hurts. This is especially true during election season.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mopey Duns says:

              Write a guest post.

              I think there have been two “enthusiastic” Obama supporting posts among the FP crowd, and a few nose-holders, and the rest are voting third party or like Doc aren’t pushing their Presidential selection on the FP. We have Tom and Tim, who are voting for Mitt.

              So we have a few more nose-holders for Obama than we have nose-holders for Mitt, but otherwise, we’re pretty much split.

              This reminds me of the PPACA debates when people kept saying, “You guys are pro-PPACA” and then a survey showed that more than half of the FP/main commentariat were against.Report

              • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Well, I would. But I am not American, so it would feel like meddling, frankly.

                That and if I were, I wouldn’t support either candidate.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mopey Duns says:

                See, you’re one of those third party types!

                (FWIW, an outsider perspective on the U.S. election would seriously be awesome)Report

              • Avatar Mopey Duns in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’ll think about it, but I don’t know how much I can add to the discussion.

                What really bothered me wasn’t so much the discussion around Romney, but an early thread where it was implied that anyone who supported Romney and the GOP was clearly a shitty racist, or at the very least an enabler of shitty racists. From the perspective of someone outside of the whole thing, that is somewhat offputting, and tends to cast more heat than light (I have always appreciated LOOG’s focus on light). It is like accusing everyone who votes Democrat of being a shitty baby murderer; all useful discussion ends.

                That being said, I am sure much of the unpleasantness (at least on this site) will subside following the election, provided nothing exceptionally nasty happens, and things can get back to normal.

                I have been thinking about the argument that the US system is structurally unsuited to the introduction of third parties, though. I suspect that it is more a historical artifact rather than anything truly inherent in the system. There are other first past the post countries, after all, which have strong nationally-based third parties despite a similar system. Canada and Britain, off the top of my head. The only wrinkle is the presidency, really.

                We’ll see if I have the time; rather busy lately.Report

              • What really bothered me wasn’t so much the discussion around Romney, but an early thread where it was implied that anyone who supported Romney and the GOP was clearly a shitty racist, or at the very least an enabler of shitty racists. From the perspective of someone outside of the whole thing, that is somewhat offputting, and tends to cast more heat than light (I have always appreciated LOOG’s focus on light). It is like accusing everyone who votes Democrat of being a shitty baby murderer; all useful discussion ends.


                That being said, I am sure much of the unpleasantness (at least on this site) will subside following the election, provided nothing exceptionally nasty happens, and things can get back to normal.

                That too. As Mom used to say, “Keep it down to a gentle roar.” I miss the gentle roar.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      3) Tribalism. Folks like George will vote for Romney, HOPING that he presides from the center, but having no true basis in fact. Just because he’s not Obama, and Obama is bad because… well, he just IS, OK?

      Hey, I don’t hope Romney presides from the center. There ain’t nothing in the middle of the road but white stripes and dead possums.

      The middle is what got us into that deficit mess, because in the middle you have to give both sides everything they want, and they want a lot. The last president with a balanced budget was Clinton, which he got by swerving right to dodge the busload of welfare cases.

      Bush was a road hog in a Winebago with a gun rack and a “Compassionate Conservative” bumpersticker, flinging out pill bottles to the old folks, lollipops to young folks, and tellin’ everyone he was going on a camel hunt.

      When Obama took the wheel he didn’t swerve one way or the other, he just tromped on the gas and drove like Bush, half the time not even watching the road. Now everybody is car sick, the Winnebago is almost out of gas, and somebody clearly doesn’t know how the port-a-potty works.

      For God’s sake, someone else take the wheel before Marlene vomits.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to George Turner says:

        Best description of GWB I’ve read in some time.Report

      • Avatar LarryM in reply to George Turner says:

        You know, I respect that opinion, though disagreeing. But you know, I GET why people like you are voting for Romney. But there ARE a bunch of people who do buy into the centrist technocrat thing, and a lot of them are Romney voters. As I said below, I really don’t get that.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LarryM says:

          Romney ran as a generic Republican. He’s everything you want a Republican to be, and nothing else.

          Obviously that makes him different to different people, but it was a good strategy — generic anything always polls better than specific ones, since specific ones have to commit to iffy things from time to time.

          So a lot of people see the Romney they want to see. A lot more, I’d imagine, than look at Romney and think “Why should I believe he’s gonna be the Romney I want and not the Romney that other guy wants?”Report

  18. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Whatever the result, I will do the same as I always do and hope for the day that everyone heeds these words from Walt Whitman:

    This is what you shall do:
    Love the earth and sun and the animals,
    Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
    Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
    Devote your income and labors to others,
    Hate tyrants, argue not concerning God,
    Have patience and indulgence toward the people,
    Take off your hat to nothing known or unknown,
    Or to any man or number of men,
    Go freely with powerful uneducated persons,
    And with the young and with the mothers of families,
    Read these leaves in the open air,
    Every season of every year of your life,
    Reexamine all you have been told,
    At school at church or in any book,
    Dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
    And your very flesh shall be a great poem,
    And have the richest fluency not only in its words,
    But in the silent lines of its lips and face,
    And between the lashes of your eyes,
    And in every motion and joint of your body.Report

  19. Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    NOTE: Will T is not Will Truman.Report

  20. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I’m casting my vote for Gary Johnson this year. If he doesn’t win I’m blaming it on the media. They allow third party candidates to be suppressed with their complicity. Even when I was the most partisan of Republicans I thought this country needed more options than the two-party system. I loved Perot and voted for Nader in 2000. These days I feel like Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin.

    Now get off my lawn!Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      As long as we have FPTP, we’ll continue to have a two-party system. Change things to IRV or a proportional vote, I’ll happily endorse third parties.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I didn’t start following politics until after 2000, so may I ask: what do Perot, Nader and Johnson have in common, other than being third-party candidates?Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Perot was just awesome. Of course, I was also only 17 when he ran the first time so that may have just been my youthful ignorance.

        Nader was a protest vote because I HATED Gore and I thought Bush’s people treated McCain terribly in the 2000 primaries.

        Johnson appears to align most with my political leanings these days. I am still a bit surprised myself.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          what was so wrong with Gore?
          Perot was awesome, if you didn’t want him as a president. if you did, i’d be awfully disappointed with his intransigence and trying deliberately to lose.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

            Google “Anthrax and Tipper Gore” and you’ll see why a large number of people who were teenagers in the early 90s hated the Gores.Report

            • This. What was worse, it never felt like it was a cause they actually believed in. It always felt like this thing they were going through to check a demographic off of their list.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Seriously a horrible move for their long-term political career.

                If you’re a young veep, you have to figure that it’s possible that your Prez will be a two-termer and that you’ll be the presumptive nominee seven and a half years from when you become veep.

                Don’t piss off people who are 14, especially if you’re Team Blue. They’ll be 21 when you run, and youthful exuberance is one of your main drivers in election season.Report

              • I find a certain amount of poetic justice when that kind of grandstanding bites politicians in the ass.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              Oh, no, I can totally see anyone hating Tipper. She’s a witch of an evil bitch.
              Al Gore’s just a nice guy, though… (and his daughter can actually write!)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

                There’s a postscript to all that. Frank Zappa testified against the PMRC back in the day. As Frank lay dying of cancer, Tipper Gore reached out to him and the two were reconciled.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP says:

                In the overall view of “terrible PR moves committed by politicians”, this had probably the least-bad actual consequences for the country. Shoot, it gave Carlin a name for a album, and nobody that I knew was ever forbidden from buying an album because of a sticker (that they wouldn’t have had repossessed by their parents upon hearing it if the sticker wasn’t on it in the first place). Parent who care about that sort of stuff don’t need stickers.

                Still, from a pure politics standpoint, a boner.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


              People forget the PMRC nowadays, but that was a big deal in the mid to late 80’s.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              You know, that warning label was the single best thing that happened to the recording industry in the ’90’s. (Well, perhaps the CD, much cheaper produce then vinyl, and their old contracts royalty spreads were still written based on vinyl production.)

              But if you wanted to move a lot of albums to young boys, you made sure it had one of Tipper’s labels.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

                That’s the great irony, isn’t it. Just like The Last Temptation of Christ; by throwing a public fit the moralists just ended up ensuring that far more people would actually go see it.

                Given the actual message of the movie, I’m inclined to say that God works in mysterious ways.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                It only took in $8 million. What would it have done without the outrage?Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:


                I homeschooled one of my kids (for reasons not of my own choosing) for one year. We HAD to join a homeschool group; only one in the remotely close area was a Christian group. First meeting, the organizing mom had come down from her off-grid mountain to house sit for a friend for a few days. And found FOX news. She sang it’s praises. I knew this wasn’t going to be my cup of tea.

                Second meeting, they spend the whole time talking about taking a field trip to see that movie. TAKING SMALL CHILDREN, SOME ONLY 3, TO SEE A SNUFF FLICK.

                I never went back. State also never checked up on what I did/did not teach my kid. Not once.

                I don’t believe in God. But I do believe in mysteries, large and small. And math and science.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

                I’m mostly in sympathy with you here, but “snuff flick?”

                Not that I think it was by any means an appropriate movie for little kids, but it actually had a pretty deep meaning. (Although to be fair, the meaning is a lot easier to discern in the book than in the movie.)Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                You may be the only person I’ve ever met that also read the book. (I’ve never seen the film.) But, sure, in the book Christ wasn’t tempted with some idiot fantasy about being king of the world, he was tempted with having a wife and family and knowing human love. Good stuff.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’ve done both, a few times each. Both are quite amazing.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to James Hanley says:

                I got it, Tod, reading about the book and seeing the movie. That Jesus–as a man if not God, and according to Christian theology both–would choose the cross rather than a nice life with sex and family and stuff with a nice wife was the point.

                Willem Defoe just too creepy, though. Better Denzel Washington, frinstance, a more perfect man.



              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley says:

                That’s a great casting idea.

                And yeah, as a non-believer a Jesus that has to face doubts and desires is the only way the story carries any power. The idea of a perfect being without either rejecting temptation and choosing to suffer for others doesn’t mean anything. (To me, obviously)Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to zic says:

                I think zic is messing up Last Temptation and Passion of the Christ.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Good call, Mr. E. I usually get the gist of everybody’s musings, but was scratchin’ my head on that one. 0? [new emoticon?]

                And yeah, inappropriate for children.

                My earliest memory, or one of them, confirmed by my mother, 5 yrs old mebbe, was her telling me about The Passion. I was in the tub, hot tears falling into the bath.

                They did that to him?, I asked, incredulously. I couldn’t bear to watch the movie. In the mind’s eye of a five-year-old, once was enough. The tears still burn, eh?Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Bingo. I stand shamed with introduction a stupid movie point; I get migraine, so just don’t do movies much.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Actually, Zic, it was to deeply respect your comment after it was explained to me. A loving mother explaining what Jesus went through is right for a five year old, not Mel Gibson’s movie. The horror of it.

                It made such an impression on me at age 5, and reliving it in my teens and my adult life in the Good Friday ritual, the “Stations of the Cross.” that I could not bear to watch the movie. If you get it, it hurts more than anything. But everyone needs to experience it once.Report

              • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Well, calling the collection of Gospels a snuff flick may be an odd turn of phrase, but theologically, its apt.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Ah, thanks to Jesse for clearing that up. I was puzzled that fundies would take their kids to “temptation” not so much about “Passion.” That one I never saw nor had interest in seeing.

                Tod, good to meet a fellow reader of the book.

                Clarification for TVD. As I read the book, the author was in fact seeing Jesus as both God and man, in accordance with fairly standard theology, and was focusing on the tension that created. It draws in part–nor explicitly–from Jesus’ tempting by Satan, and his prayer to “let this (crucifixion) pass from me,” if it was his Father’s will. The biblical retelling are pretty bloodless–not its literary high points–and Nikos Kazantsakis was trying to understand (with some artistic license) the real depth and meaning of the Messiah’s temptation and crisis moment. It’s actually a deeply reverential work. (And I agree–Denzel W. would be a better Jesus than Willem D., as much as I respect the latter’s acting chops.)Report

            • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              This. I felt it was Tipper more than Al, so didn’t really hold it against him. Especially as the alternative was a “Compassionate Conservative” — and Molly Ivans had exposed that racket.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I would say that Perot and Nader are both spoilers, in a sense, so those two have that in common… we don’t know if Johnson is a spoiler yet.

        Here’s hoping.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to KatherineMW says:

        You know, this comment makes me feel old. Because of George Wallace, John Anderson, and Steve Forbes.

        3rd party spoilers are an aging tradition, well entrenched in my political history; though Wallace ran 10 years before I was old enough to vote.

        Nader, though, really peeved liberals who thought he betrayed many of the values he supposedly held dear by not running, and essentially handing the election to Bush. I felt, and I’m not alone, that he put his ideology first, actual events and outcomes second, and so became a very tarnished and diminished anti-hero.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to zic says:

          Nader? Ego way before ideology.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to zic says:

          I find that highly unfair. If he didn’t feel that a Gore administration would represent his values, he had every reason to run. If the people who voted for Nader didn’t feel that Gore represented their values, they had every reason to vote for them; and if he hadn’t run they may well have simply stayed home rather than vote for Gore, so there’s certainly no cause for blaming Nader.

          If Gore couldn’t manage to give people reasons to vote for him rather than for a third-party candidate, then that was his problem and his own fault, not Nader’s. If one court decision had gone the other way, Gore would have won, realized how close he came to losing, and paid a lot more attention to the issues that caused people to vote for Nader, and we all would have held Nader’s campaign up as an example of highly successful third-party action. As I understand it the courts, not Nader, gave Florida to Bush.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW says:

            GORE won florida.
            So sayeth the free market.
            All Cheer the Betting Pools!Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Kim says:

              I don’t think Gore did win FL; and I’m suspicious of everyone who says the votes were actually counted.

              WaPo said they did, and Gore lost.

              Greg Pallast said he did, and Gore won.

              And I don’t trust Pallast, he’s definitely got a bias.

              But. Before the election, 20,000 souls were cast from the voter rolls because they had names remotely similar to known felons in in a swath of states across the South. So if there was a fellon named ‘Kim Kimsie,’ and your name was ‘Kim K. Whimsie,’ good chance of you showing up at the polls and not being allowed to vote.

              Thousands of people, far greater then the vote difference, did show up at the polls; nobody’s sure the exact number. And were turned away. Almost all in poor, minority communities.

              So my take is that Bush did indeed steal the election, but it happened before a single vote was cast because several-thousand voters, likely Democratic voters, were disenfranchised of their right to vote.Report

          • As I understand it the courts, not Nader, gave Florida to Bush.

            Not exactly, Katherine. 12 years later people still don’t know the story. God spare us from a repeat this time around!


            “In all likelihood, George W. Bush still would have won Florida and the presidency last year if either of two limited recounts — one requested by Al Gore, the other ordered by the Florida Supreme Court — had been completed, according to a study commissioned by The Washington Post and other news organizations.”Report

            • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              The Supreme Court is why we have to settle for “in all likelihood”. They were afraid that counting the damned votes might have led to the wrong result.Report

              • The FL legislature was constitutionally authorized to decide, and it would’ve. Or the GOP-dominated House of Representatives. But your aspersions at the Supreme Court are exactly why Chief Justice Roberts won’t let it happen again in ’12. If it’s to be a big stinking mess, let it be one.Report

            • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              What Mike said. It’s okay because now we get to guess who might have won instead of actually counting people’s votes?

              As for a repeat, I’m half-hoping for Obama to win the EV and Romney to take the popular vote just to see absolutely everyone fall over themselves trying to contradict what they said twelve years ago while insisting they’re not doing so.

              I decidedly do notwant a repeat of people’s votes not being counted, though the Republican government of Ohio seems to want that very much, fearing that democracy will not be in their interests.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Bush would indeed have won in any of the recounts–as subsequent actual recounts of the ballots have shown–or if the FL legislature had voted an electoral slate (as they were preparing to do).

              However, had Palm Beach County not bungled their ballot, it’s most likely that Gore would have won.

              In an election that close, it’s statistically a coin flip anyway.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

          Nader’s a scab. Fuck him and the horse he rode in on. Fuck him for refusing to pay minimum wage.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to zic says:

          3rd party spoilers are an aging tradition

          Well, I’ll only throw in this much to the debate.

          The term “spoiler” already includes a normative – presumably objective but actually very subjective – conception of what’s preferred.Report

  21. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I’m also going to say for the record that I expect this election to be contested well into December. There’s a real mess going on with voting procedures. This article terrifies me:


    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      This would be bad. Very bad.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      #2 seems the most dangerous scenario and also the most plausible.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        #2 follows directly from the GOP embrace of vote suppression as a major tactic. #4 follows from the GOP-led hysteria about vote fraud. “Poll watching” has a long and inglorious history of suppressing minority votes (William Rehnquist perjured himself during his confirmation hearings by denying being part of that history); Von Spakovsky’s job at the FEC was to suppress minority votes by any means necessary.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Mike – The GOP may be intimidating voters, but they aren’t the only ones hanging around polling places. I know a liberal lawyer up in NYC that volunteers as a poll-watcher. They claim to be trying to stop voter intimidation but they are just another group causing confusion. Both sides need to knock it off.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Let ’em both stand there. It helps, believe me. Some folks don’t know the rules, some folks need to be told about things “what in hell is a provisional ballot?”Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Either that or they need to quit screwing around and start throwing punches. Then at least we can throw the dumbasses in jail.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Yes, but as far as I’ve seen, it’s mostly the GOP foolz who come with guns.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

              I have never seen someone show up at a polling place with a firearm.

              I’m pretty sure you’ll get in trouble for that one.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Heard of the minutemen?
                I’m not of the persnitkety type who says that if they are outside the allowable borders, they can’t be intimidating the other side (and deliberately disseminating false information).

                [which is to say: this is done, and done deliberately, but the places where it happens are relatively confined]Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

                Let me rephrase that.

                I really doubt that you can actually intimidate anyone within a reasonable distance from a polling place in this day and age – to the extent that you can substantively change an election, anyway – without actual violence breaking out.

                Maybe you can scare off a voter or twelve. Not enough to make a difference, unless you make a big enough stink that other people from the other side will show up and violence will break out.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                A few years ago some vols had to radio national HQ to get enough ballots out to the reservations…
                But yeah, I think at least for the Presidential, it would be REALLY tough to do anything and not get it smacked down HARD.
                “mistyped” flyers do more for less work and effort… and less trackability.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

                Oh, the reservations. Well, you probably have a point there. But I think that’s far less “intimidation” than it is, “Oh, the abjectly poor people on the reservation actually want to vote? Whodathunk? Who was in charge of getting them ballots… nobody? Hm.”Report

    • Avatar Michelle in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      I really hope you’re wrong. A repeat of 2000, no matter who wins, will rip an already deeply divided country apart.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Michelle says:

        i don’t know about rip apart – i don’t think we’ll see team red/team blue street skirmishes – it would certainly be a huge mess. was the ohio kerfluffle with the provisional ballots a tactic or incompetence?Report

  22. Avatar wardsmith says:

    Romney wins 52.4% of the popular vote but Obama somehow wins the electoral college, there are cries of foul on both sides but like when Satan gets sued by God, the GOP can’t find any trial lawyers on their side of the fence.Report

  23. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    The GOP is going to be just fine on lawyers this month. Not that you’d take my word for it, but. They’ve got good ones. A lot of em.Report

  24. Avatar LarryM says:

    First a couple of fairly unlikely scenario specific situations:

    Romney wins a narrow EC victory based upon a very narrow win in Florida and/or Ohio: I am generally very skeptical of the various “steal the elections” scenarios. But Republican state governments in both states have engaged in very public, not at all secret, and even arguably borderline legal attempts to surpress the Democratic vote – this scenario does not depend on any “secret” shennanigans. The courts have mostly stopped the worse excesses, and it is doubtful that it will make the difference in the election. But if either state is closer than say 10,000 votes, and if that state provides the margin of victory in the EC, then yes, you can legitimately start talking about a “stolen” election. I think the chance of this scenario occuring is low but non-zero.

    Romney wins PA very narrowly and that proves to be the winning margin in the EC – hurricane related; while PA was not hit nearly as hard as NY, NJ, etc., probably voting will be a little surpressed by it in the bluer parts of the state. In a narrow Romney win, that could make the difference. However, if PA is that close, probably Romney is doing much better everywhere so PA won’t decide the election. So low probability on this.

    Those scenarios aside, if we are simply looking at a situation where the polling is off and Romeny wins a narrow but convincing victory, I’d say simply “the economy” and “heck if I know.” The “heck if I know” comes from bafflement as to why Romney is doing at all well with moderates. Part of that may be Obama related (the economy), but part of that appears to be trusting that the real Romney is going to govern as a non-warmongering center right technocrat. Which I guess is possible, but why someone would have any confidence in that given (a) the astonishing plasticity of Romney’s expressed viewpoints, (b) the incoherence of his policy positions, and (c) the identity of the majority of his foreign policy advisors combined with his apparent disinterest in foriegn policy detail. Given that, I want to say “voter ignorance,” but yeah I know how that sounds.Report

    • Avatar LarryM in reply to LarryM says:

      Look, I am actually pretty good at getting into the heads of people I disagree with, so at one level I suppose I sort of get it. I mean, I see the logic: “he governed as a center right Republican in Massachusetts, and he had to pretend to be ‘severely conservative’ to win the primary and the Republican base.” But the former doesn’t mean much; a Republican in Massachusetts has to govern from the center to succeed. And the later, if one has really been paying attention, is very much the triumph of hope over the facts. Or to put it another way, if you assume he is “really” a center right technocrat, you also have to believe is his astonishingly dishonest even by the standards of the modern presidency. Even if you’re willing to take the risk that the “real” Romney is the center right technocrat, why would you want that kind of sociopath governing the nation?

      Though I guess a lot of people DON’T pay very close attention to the election.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to LarryM says:

        So we must assume that Romney would be the worst person possible, despite all available evidence, because there might actually be a horrible person under his skin waiting for the chance to erupt forth.

        But, y’know, it was perfectly okay to elect a junior Senator who hadn’t even finished a full term and hadn’t held a major public office before being elected.Report

        • Avatar DRS in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Well it was apparently perfectly okay to take a governor of a small state who hadn’t even finished a full term and hadn’t helpd a major public office before being elected and make her vice presidential candidate.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DRS says:

            I’m still not sure why “inexperience” is worse for a vice-president than for a president.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Now you’re just deliberately being obtuse — is it to make a point? I can’t tell.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kim says:

                Not atall. Both Obama ’08 and Sarah Palin were underqualified. I thought it quite legitimate to condemn McCain’s judgment for picking Palin. Unfortunately, Obama has not had to pay for Biden.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Biden’s plenty qualified on foreign policy. Unless a 20+ yr career in the Senate somehow counts as unqualified.

                Seriously, you’ve got to have something here that I’m missing.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kim says:

                Biden is always wrong. His judgment stinks. Yes, on paper he is qualified. Just not in real life.

                And the main point is that DD’s criticism of Obama’s qualifications in ’08 is quite valid, and indeed has been borne out by a lousy performance in office. And even if he had turned out to be an able president, on paper he was still underqualified.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Biden is always wrong. His judgment stinks.

                And he’s a big poopyhead!Report

              • It’s a little late to litigate Biden, Mike. Hopefully he hurt the ticket with that very unpresidential debate performance.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                On paper he had just beaten Hillary, in a Democratic Primary.
                Competency and manigerial skills count for a lot in my book.

                (What egregious judgements do you call Biden to account for, anyway? Are they really non-partisan? I have a few for Romney/Ryan, just one for McCain, but they’re really, cut n’ dried not about issues)Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                No it’s not. I’m sorry you dislike Irish politicians and think them unpresidential.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                My guy is forceful, yours is unpresidential.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                It’s a little late to litigate Biden,

                Apparently it became a little late sometime between 3:12 p.m. and 3:14 p.m. Sorry, Mike, you just missed the window on that one!Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Goddamn daylight savings.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Clearly since McCain has been dead all these years we would have been forced to live under the nightmare scenario of a President Palin. Err.

                Thank God we have that genius Biden not running things.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                ” DD’s criticism of Obama’s qualifications in ’08 is quite valid…”

                Thanks for being on my side, but that’s not quite the point I wanted to make.

                My point is that if we can look at Romney’s entire record and personal life and say “weelllll that doesn’t prove he’s not a horrible monster”, then how did we end up electing someone who we knew even less about?Report

              • I felt I knew Barack Obama well enough: the product of the left-lib establishment, from the ritziest private high school in Hawaii to the laughably PC Occidental College, to Columbia then Harvard Law.

                That screams Centrist! to some folks, but that’s questionable.

                There has been a conscious effort to cover his paper trail, but I put it down to potential minor embarrassments like crap grades or the Soetoro/Obama surnames.

                [Did he ever legally change his name back from his adoptive father’s “Soetoro”? Or did Lolo Soetoro never formally adopt him atall? That sort of thing, unimportant except that in contradicting his auto-hagiographies.]Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Obama ’08 and Sarah Palin were underqualified.

                I’m not so sure about that.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Yes. Because Obama’s books were less desultory than Romney’s. Because Obama doesn’t pointlessly throw away votes, and honestly understands what it’s like to be a politician.
          And most importantly?
          Obama broke Hillary’s Machine.

          That’s worth a vote, my friend, if you care about getting out of this financial mess.Report

        • Avatar LarryM in reply to DensityDuck says:

          My guess is that we’ve been watching different elections in alternative universes.

          You don’t have to “guess” that Romeny is a horrible person. As a moderate (again, I perfectly understand why conservatives back him), you have to (1) ignore the fact that he IS a horrible person, and (2) guess that the real, unrevealed political Romney, is the center right technocrat that he occassionally professes to be (when he professing to be a severe conservative, or trying to somehow be both at once.Report

          • Avatar LarryM in reply to LarryM says:

            And no I’m NOT making the boring and overly simplistic “conservatives support him because they are horrible people too” argument. But as a conservative, the policy implication (and Supreme Court nominations) are significant enough that you vote for the sociopath anyway. Heck, while not a big partisan Dem (more a partisan anti-current Republican party) I can see that logic; I’m going to be voting for a war criminal after all.

            But for a moderate, for whom the policy implications are less extreme – why vote for the sociopath, especially when you might end up with a far right sociopath, given uncertainty about the “real” Romney.

            And yeah, I get that many people don’t see him that way. What I don’t get is why they don’t.Report

  25. Avatar Kim says:

    My best guess on why Obama loses: one lead bullet.Report

    • Avatar DRS in reply to Kim says:

      Um, you know, that’s something that really cries out for a paragraph rather than a flat sentence.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to DRS says:

        98.5% chance Obama wins, according to the Numbers Man (TM). That’s half of standard statistical significance (.05), at least from what I recall of psychology.

        So, what’s more likely? That the math is wrong, or that something “Chaotic and Unexpected” happens? People bet on chaotic and unexpected All the freaking time (look at the oil market if you don’t believe me. Here’s a ticket, buy it for a quarter. If, in ten weeks, you want to buy 100 barrels of oil for $100 apiece, I’ll sell it to you. [naturally you only do that if oil is above $100/barrel])

        So, I’d have to bet on “crazypants unexpected” PLUS “people changing their mind because of it.” An assassination, possibly followed by a Biden Breakdown, might do it.Report

  26. Avatar Michelle says:

    If Obama loses, and there’s no real evidence of Republican shenanigans suppressing the vote in Ohio or Florida, it will be because of the economy. I’ve always thought that the election would be close. If Republicans hadn’t picked such a generally unlikeable nominee, they’d likely win without too much difficulty, albeit not by a landslide, given economic conditions.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michelle says:

      If Republicans hadn’t picked such a generally unlikeable nominee

      Their shot at winning by a goodly margin was probably Rubio. He was smart enough to figure it was probably a losing case and want to hold out until 2016. If it comes down to Rubio vs. Clinton in 2016, I expect the young earnest man to win out.

      In this particular case, it’s absolutely true that the GOP picked the most generally likeable person out of those running. It just so happens that everyone else in the race was an even worse choice than Mitt on the likeability scale.

      I think the guy is probably all right, generally. Not my personal cup of tea, but I imagine he does the best he can inside his head with the person he is and the circumstances he’s been subjected to over his lifetime. If he is something of an over-privileged prat, that’s kind of to be expected; it doesn’t mean that it’s a deal-breaker, nor does it mean he’s the horrible sort of rich guy that eats poor babies.

      But he comes across as horribly unlikable, just like Gore and Kerry.Report

      • +1 on this. If Rubio had run* I think White House interns would have spent all of October trying to set up job interviews.

        *(assuming got the nod… it was such a bizarre GOP primary that who the fish knows what would have happened)Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I think the primary was in large part due to the circumstances. None of the guys who really were good candidates wanted to run against an incumbent, particularly a historic incumbent, particularly when everybody knew in 2011 that by election time 2012 the economy was going to start moving back on the uptick and you’d have to make the case, “Things could be better than they are now!” instead of, “See, he’s made it worse!”.

          So too many of the marginal candidates threw their hats into the ring, and that led to the crazy more than anything else. Take Perry and Bachmann and Santorum out of the mix and imagine Newt, Mitt, and Cain as the only three candidates and there’s many topics off the table that those three don’t challenge each other on so don’t have to go on record saying things that are weirder than the things they actually believe because Perry is ahead among one demographic for a month.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            James Fallows ran a guest post, Ask Dr. Popkin: 3 Myths of the Romney Campaign.

            Popkin also placed a lot of blame on the primary:

            Whenever you hear politicians say an election is not about the party, you can be sure it is about the party. The Romney campaign had some serious shortcomings but their major errors were made in the primary, when they miscalculated how much red meat they could feed their voracious base and still win in November. Either they overestimated how damaged Obama would be by the bad economy or they overestimated how much damage Romney could sustain in the primaries and still recover. Either way, the underlying fault lies with the Republican Party’s increasingly radical policies, which placed Romney in the perilous position of reconciling the concerns of the independents needed to win the general election with the demands of primary voters who had been promised the moon.


            • Avatar Michelle in reply to zic says:

              Either way, the underlying fault lies with the Republican Party’s increasingly radical policies, which placed Romney in the perilous position of reconciling the concerns of the independents needed to win the general election with the demands of primary voters who had been promised the moon.

              Had Mitt tracked back to the center after the convention instead of waiting until the first debate, he might have had a better chance of pulling ahead for good. But, since so much of the base doubted his conservative credentials, it probably wasn’t an option. And, should he lose, I’m guessing that right wing commentators will be explaining that he lost because he wasn’t sufficiently conservative.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michelle says:

                Agreed, but I’d push that even farther–Mitt needed to track back to the center even before the convention, possibly as early as when it became clear that he was going to win enough delegates to be the candidate.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                Yes; though as a liberal Democrat, I’m really glad he didn’t.

                More to the point, it exposes the trouble with today’s GOP — that a candidate that appeals to the base doesn’t appeal nationally. So they are both marginalized and exert undue political pressure on the system at the same time, because they keep winning down-ballot races with fringe candidates.

                This misery will take it’s time resolving.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Rubio could never have won. He’d have gone to jail first.
        He may win in 2016 though.

        Santorum was more likeable than Romney — at least he believes what he says.Report

  27. Avatar 2laneIA says:

    I have already voted for Obama, with as little joy as you had doing it, and for some of the same reasons. If he loses it will be because he has coddled the bankers and attacked the social insurance programs loved by the middle class. His stupid deficit/Grand Bargain obsession during the worst recession in my lifetime, combined with admitting that he and Romney are in basic agreement on Social Security, was terrible policy and politics. If he had instead articulated a loud defense of Social Security and Medicare this race might be already over. The Republicans all embraced the Ryan Plan, but the Democrats couldn’t beat them up over it effectively because a lot of them want cuts too.Report

  28. Avatar b-psycho says:

    To Pat Cahalan above:

    I’d see this more as a reason not to vote for Emmanuel Cleaver than not to vote for Obama, if I’m a black dude.
    But that’s a set of shoes I can’t put on very credibly, so what the hell do I know.

    It has meaning beyond the election, Pat. The reason why ethnic/religious/whatever sympathies have meaning politically despite their shameful implications regardless of who or in what direction* has a deeper, even somewhat understandable root: fear of what Others, people outside of your group, will do to those inside your group with power, and corresponding wish that should we be doomed to have those with power over us, let them at least be One Of Us, so they have sympathy with Us.

    That this isn’t how political power works — simply resembling you or going through similar religious rituals or lack thereof (I’m not expecting the 1st atheist president to be particularly better than the believers, if anyone is wondering) doesn’t dilute the fact that they’re claiming power over you, which means functionally they’re not One Of Us — is bad enough. To adopt the One Of Us view and then judge by a lower standard…that’s just fishing ridiculous.

    (* – I have as much disregard for whites backing Romney because he’s white as for blacks backing Obama because he’s black. Neither exists in as huge waves as their respective opponents claim — blacks vote overwhelmingly Dem regardless & there’s plenty of whites who genuinely disagree with Obama on policy, but they are still significant otherwise you wouldn’t be able to find them. That they exist at all is a problem itself.)Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to b-psycho says:

      It has meaning beyond the election, Pat. let them at least be One Of Us, so they have sympathy with Us

      Oh, sure, I get that. In the larger scale of things, this is a very human response, and given any set of people above a trivial size, you’re going to get this. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t see this as particularly indicative of anything, though.

      I mean, let’s say I’m Obama. Let’s say I have what I think is a plan that I think is a good plan, for the entire country, generally. Let’s say in a given snapshot of time, it’s going to make things worse for people who might vote for me on the “He’s One Of Us” motivation, or at least “not make them better”.

      I mean, when the economy is in the tank, the poor are going to be affected more than the middle class or the rich. And when the poor are screwed, black people in particular are screwed because they are disproportionately poor compared to white people.

      Forging ahead may be made politically easier because you know there’s some folk out there who will vote for you on the “He’s One Of Us” principle, but that really doesn’t tell anybody anything about what your motivations are. You can’t really take that as evidence that he’s out to get black people, or out to get white people, or hates the poor or not. All you can take it as is evidence of the efficacy of the policy, and that needs to be put in the context of “was it better than what would have happened without intervention”, which is usually a counterfactual fantasy.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to b-psycho says:

      FTR, Mr. Psycho, I don’t have a problem with blacks voting Obama for that reason alone. It’s been a long bloody road.

      But this needs to be the last time, if only because it’s wiser that Black America have friends on both sides of the aisle. Putting all its eggs in the Democrat basket–even when led by Barack Obama—has not worked out.

      Dwight Eisenhower sent the troops into Little Rock to desegregate the schools. Sen. Everett Dirksen broke the Dixiecrat filibuster of the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act. Richard Nixon championed affirmative action. The point isn’t to re-litigate the Dem/black axis, but to say it helps to have friends wherever they’re willing to stand up and be counted.

      All of Black America’s eggs are now in Barack’s basket. When Barack is gone, now or in 4 years, the question will be asked.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Can you give some examples in the last 30 years?Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

          I’m sure he’ll cite George’s comment that under Obama white’s net worth has doubled relative to black’s net worth. So the conclusion is obvious: blacks are fucking crazy to vote for a black man!

          And that conclusion will stand even if you refute the premise of the argument!Report

          • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

            Look, I don’t think either party has done much for black people or poor people or pretty much any disadvantaged group, except a few things for women and gays on the part of the Democrats. But I can’t think of anything Republicans have done to even court the black vote (except oppose abortion, of course), much less earn it.Report

      • Avatar Sierra Nevada in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        It’s a complicated situation, Tom. You claim it would be better for blacks not to put all of their eggs into the Democrat basket, and I agree. Just like it would be better if white male working class voters would be better off not putting all their eggs in the Republican basket.

        But that ain’t the way the world works. Constituencies exist. Political parties draw their power from that fact. Shifts happen, true. For instance, the southern white vote after the democrats went all in on civil rights and the republicans made their play for them with the so-called “southern strategy.”

        IMO, there is no shift coming any time soon for voters of color. You can thank the long lines for early voting that the republican governor of Florida has engineered for that fact, Tom. The disenfranchisement effort being put on by republican officials has optics that are going to stick around for quite a while.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Sierra Nevada says:

          SR, thx for your reply. After this election my opinion will be fact. Black America must stop playing one end against the middle in favor of both.Report

          • Avatar Sierra Nevada in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            I don’t think it works that way, Tom. Black voters, like white voters, form group affiliations that are exploitable by parties. Electing BO has gone a long way towards ending the goal of color being such a powerful point of political leverage. But the republicans are royally screwing the pooch right now with the voter suppression effort. It is going to take a long time for folks to forget what they are seeing on the news going on right now in florida and ohio.Report

            • Avatar Sierra Nevada in reply to Sierra Nevada says:

              That should have read “the goal of ending” not “ending the goal.” Me goofy.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Sierra Nevada says:

              What would possibly lead you to think I want to litigate that contention, Mr. Sierra Nevada, whoever the F you are?

              If the GOP sent a fully-stocked limo to every black voter in America, every black voter in America would say, hey dude, thanks. Mebbe next time.Report

              • Avatar Sierra Nevada in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Whoever the F I am, I largely agree with you. In this election, you are certainly correct, nothing the republicans can do to win the black vote. But constituencies can undergo shifts. I think that the challenge facing the republicans going forward is how to hold on to the white vote while going after other constituencies.

                The only way I can see them doing it is by recruiting good candidates of color. White republicans, after Obama, are going to be falling all over themselves to vote for anyone of their party who will help them escape the stink of racism currently pervading their party.

                Grooming candidates for national office takes time, but if Romney manages to pull off the upset, it will buy republicans enough time to pull it off pretty well. If he loses, they are going to have to speed the process up a little.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Escaping the stink of racism is apparently pretty easy. Lyndon Johnson pretty much won the black vote saying, “Hey, we ain’t lynched none of you all in two or three months, so vote for us and we’ll build y’all big housin’ projects, with fancy bathrooms where the toilet paper roll is mounted where you can reach it easy, not where you have to kind’a wrench your back out twistin’ to get at it.” That seemed like a pretty smart idea, and the rest, as they say, is history.

                I’d keep an eye on Allen West.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to George Turner says:

                Actually, LBJ won the black vote by saying, “we’ll actually let you vote and we’ll use the full force of the federal government to make that possible.”Report

              • Avatar Sierra Nevada in reply to George Turner says:

                Civil Rights act of 1964, Voting Rights Act. Solid achievements like that tend to go a long way to removing a stink. Lemme know when the republicans have the balls for that kind of work.

                And by all means, run Allen West in a national election.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

                This is the second time you have trotted up this bit of stupidity. The CRA and VRA are real things.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Those might be real things, but who’s gonna deny the temptations associated with a conveniently located toilet paper rack?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

                George is channeling Earl Butz.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                It was Republicans that pushed through the 1964 Civil Rights Act, over Democrat opposition. Johnson is almost always called an “unlikely” supporter of civil rights becaue he had to do a complete 180 on the subject. He voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1960, and he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1957. In fact, from 1940 to 1957, he never voted for a single piece of civil rights legislation, and there were many. LBJ led the opposition to Eisenhower’s 1957 Civil Rights legislation, and during Eisenhower’s tenure black support of Democrats dropped 20%, mainly because Democrats were the only people voting to keep them down. On civil rights votes from 1933 on, Democrats voted in opposition 80% of the time, Republican voted in favor 96% of the time.

                So, from the man himself:

                “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.” — Lyndon Johnson

                So yeah, “we ain’t lynched none of you all in two or three months, so vote for us and we’ll build y’all big housin’ projects.”

                The sad thing is, Democrats consider this one of their signature achievements. In other news, Susan B. Anthony was thrown in jail for bragging that she’d voted the straight Republican ticket. Democrats must’ve been pissed.Report

              • Avatar Sierra Nevada in reply to George Turner says:

                Civil Rights Act, legislation introduced by a democratic house member, passed through a democratic congress, signed by a democratic president. Those are the facts.

                You are full of shit.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to George Turner says:

                Actual voting on the Civil Rights Act

                “Among the southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia), Senate Democrats voted 1-21 against the bill (5%) while Republicans voted 0-1 (0%). In the House, southern Democrats voted 7-87 (7%) while southern Republicans voted 0-10 (0%). Among the remaining states, Democrats voted 145-9 in favor of the bill (94%) while Republicans voted 138-24 for the bill (85%). In both the North and the South, Democrats supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act at a higher rate than the Republicans. ”

                Yes, asshole racists used to call themselves Democrats in the South. They either shaped up (Robert Byrd), went over to the GOP (Strom Thurmond), or died. If any of them were alive today, they’d proudly be supporting Mitt Romney.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Well, that went nowhere, George. Beating your head against the wall only feels good when you stop.


                It is said on the night he died, Victor Hugo made this closing entry in his diary: “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.” Later it was put in more dramatic form: “Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose hour has come.” This is the issue with which we have been wrestling for months. There will be continued resistance for one reason or another. There will in some quarters be a steadfast refusal to come to grips with what seems an inevitable challenge which must be met. The idea of equal opportunity to vote, to secure schooling, to have public funds equitably spent, to have public parks and playgrounds equally accessible, to have an equal opportunity for a livelihood without discrimination, to be equal before the law—the hour for this idea has come and it will not be denied or resisted…

                The Dixiecrat filibuster was soon broken; the Civil Rights Act becomes the law of the land.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                It’s ironic, Tom, that you mis-linked that comment below Jesse’s, for reasons I think both you and George fully understand.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                In both the North and the South, Democrats supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act at a higher rate than the Republicans.

                And in both the House and the Senate, Republicans voted for it more than Democrats.

                Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
                Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)

                Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
                Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

                Democrats have to break it down, and break it down again, to the point of Democrats in brown ties and Democrats in striped socks to avoid the obvious truth that Democrats were the party of racial segregation for a century, prior to which they were the party of race-based human slavery. Looking at the vote that finally passed doesn’t quite make up for a century of votes that they successfully blocked. A century in which generations of blacks suffered oppression, disenfranchisement, and segregation at the hands of Democrats.

                Johnson’s genius was realizing how easily, and cheaply, they could buy their way out of their notorious legacy.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                And the Cubs, the first team to win two World Series in a row, remain the most successful organization in baseball, because nothing ever changes, not really.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                And it’s funny, George, how you don’t mention that the price for the CRA was losing the South, for two generations now. Odd how as soon as the Democrats became the party of civil rights, the South abandoned them.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Uh, no. The Reopublicans didn’t start winning the South until 1994. You should read “The Rise of Southern Republicans” by the Black brothers. You will probably never see a larger compilation of election data analyzed more thoroughly, anywhere.

                The average white Democrat Southern voter from 1957, when Johnson led the opposition to civil rights, was long dead by the time the South went Republican. Until they died off it stayed Democrat.

                Sometimes what you have is a guilt-driven narrative that exists out of desperate necessity. Citing LBJ usually adds to that guilt, not detract, which is why savy Internet liberals usually avoid invoking his record in a comment thread, as horrifying LBJ quotes inevitably follow.

                LBJ always reminded me of Cas Walker (1902-1998) a grocery store owner and two-time mayor of Knoxville who had an hour long morning TV program on a major station there for decades. Every morning before school I’d have to watch part of his horrifying spectacle (complete with some really, really bad local music).

                Here’s a sample: Cas Walker’s message to shoppers. His “women’s fashions” clip is also a riot.

                An hour a day on TV. For decades.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Uh, no. The Reopublicans didn’t start winning the South until 1994.

                Right, because neither Strom Thurmond nor Newt Gingrich was a Democrat until ’94.

                George, you are making really shallow arguments here. Southern ers had a hard time shifting to the GOP b/c it was the party of Lincoln. Nevertheless that was the drift from 1964 to 1994. In the meantime those old boll weevils regularly voted with the Republicans on legislation. Reagan’s legislative success was based on a conservative coalition of Republicans and southern Dems. But had those southern Representatives actually gone GOP they would have lost their committee chairmanships b/c the Dems controlled the House. When the GOPtook control of the House in the ’94 elections they finally switched over.

                ’94 was not the beginning if the switch. It was the end of a three decade transition.

                And as for the Diciecrat filibuster being broken, that was done by LBJ, who twisted their arms, threatened them with political and personal destruction (he knew who had illegitimate mulatto babies) and emphasized that they were free to vote against the bill to keep their constituents happy, that they just had to vote for cloture (which few of their constituents would notice or catch the significance of).

                Let’s not falsify history here.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Uh, no. The Reopublicans didn’t start winning the South until 1994.

                One of your ‘9’s, like your “reasoning” is upside-down. Goldwater won the deep South>/a> because of segregation, segregation, and segregation.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

                Take a look at the most recent volume of Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ, and learn about the sheer legislative genius it took to push the CRA through, avoiding both a Senate filibuster and being tied up indefinitely by the House Rules committee. There was no one in American politics besides LBJ who could have stage-manged all of that.

                Or stay ignorant. Up to you.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                And they don’t call it the Civil Right’s Act of 1933, or ’35, or ’42, or ’51 because…. They had a Democrat President, a Democrat House, and a Democrat Senate, and Democrats weren’t going pass any civil rights bills. Heck, as part of FDR’s New Deal, even soup lines were segregated.

                The Republicans were always proposing civil rights legislation, and the Democrats were always killing it, either voting it down or using various procedural tactics to stall the bills till they died.

                Kennedy started pushing for a bill in 1963, because of the protests. The Senate minority leader (a Republican) was all in favor, as always, but the Senate majority leader (a Democrat) had issues with some of the provisions.

                In the House, it barely got out of committee, with the head of the House Judiciary Committee (a Democrat) vowing to keep it locked up forever. Johnson had to beat on him to get it the floor, and amazingly, Johnsons work saw to it that only 96 Democrats voted against it.

                Then it went to the Senate, where the Democrats had even more ways to kill it in committee, which were deftly avoided by procedural cleverness. They still managed to filibuster the bill for 54 days, but that too ended, and in the final tally, one Southern Democrat actually voted for it!

                The difference between the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all the previous Civil Rights bills was that Kennedy had called MLK in jail in 1960 and Nixon hadn’t (which won him the election), and he was rewarded heavily with black votes, showing him that Democrats could actually win over blacks if they’d support civil rights instead of opposing them. His leadership was instrumental, and Johnson’s even more so, even thought Johnson had spent his entire political career opposing civil rights legislation.

                To Johnson, such legislation would establish a legacy for him to match FDR’s, and Johnson was nothing if not a little vain. The Democrats didn’t so much pass civil rights legislation (because if not for Democrats, Republicans could’ve easily overridden a Democrat President’s veto of it, and Republicans were always proposing such bills) as much as Democrats stopped opposing such legislation so strongly, enough so that they could finally get a slight majority of Democrats in favor.

                And that slight majority was won by Johnson telling them, “we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.” Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

                And they don’t call it the Civil Right’s Act of 1933, or ’35, or ’42, or ’51 because…. They had a Democrat President, a Democrat House, and a Democrat Senate, and Democrats weren’t going pass any civil rights bills. Heck, as part of FDR’s New Deal, even soup lines were segregated.

                You’re really such a dumb fuck you don’t know the difference between the olspd southern Dems and the northern Dems? You’re either an idiot or a liar. It was the southern Dems who insisted all along on segregation. They were the most conservative group in the country. Those people and their ilk ended up leaving the Democratic Party to join the Republicans because it was their fellow Dems who pushed through the CRA and VRA, not the GOP. The real problem for civil rights was neither the Dems nor the Republicans, but conservatives. But in the end those conservatives chose the GOP.

                God, this bald-faced historical revisionism is infuriating. George misrepresents history as badly as he misrepresents statistical analysis.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:


              • Avatar George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Again, very few of those Southerners switched to the GOP They got old and died. White Southern Democrats kept the South as a lock for Democrat ranks until the 1994 election, and when it finally fell in 1994 Democrats were in a panic. If white Southerners had shifted prior to this, Carter and Clinton would never have become President. Reagan carried the South on strong defense, but their Congressional delegations remained white, Southern, and Democrat.

                Lot’s of modern Democrats pretend the South whites went immediately Republican because they can’t stand the truth’s heavy burden of guilt. They often pretend that white Southern Republicans who are 20 or 40 years-old were actually manning the fire hoses on Alabama bridges, not hard-core Democrats who went to their graves voting Democrat, and whose father, grandfathers, and great grandfathers had voted Democrat, all the way until you start hitting Federalists and Whigs.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to George Turner says:

                George, is there a point to this? It seems to be “I’m right” more than anything. Do you think the Republicans today are better on race issues than Democrats? If so, can you provide some examples?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Tom’s argument here seems to be, black people should vote for Republicans so Republicans will do things for black people. This seems a bit backwards. It’s not so much that black people are putting all their eggs in one basket as that there’s only one basket in which they can reasonably put their eggs. If Republicans want to change that, they’ll have to do something.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        You have to do something to get support, Tom. There was a reason why blacks shifted Democratic in the 30’s and 40’s – FDR did things for them. Same thing with Nixon and Eisenhower. But, when Reagan decided to begin his campaign in Philadelphia, Missisippi and talk about state’s rights, most Republican’s outside of Jack Kemp stopped talking about concrete ways to help African-American’s and went to the boilerplate, “well, by cutting taxes for rich people and cutting services for poor people, it’ll lead to immense growth they’ll get a piece of.”Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          I agree, Jesse. But the veterans of the Civil Rights wars are about to die off: John Lewis, even Jesse Jackson. “Moral authority.” The audience at the bookstore agreed. There is no Next Generation for black Democrats. Everyone was pretty much 60-ish.

          Perhaps after this election you & I could have a discussion on this rather than a debate.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Sasha Obama ’32. 🙂

            Seriously though, yes, the veterans of the Civil Rights Wars are getting older. But, the veterans of the Drug Wars, the Voter Suppression Wars, and the Public Sector Union (which are far more black than the normal population, especially the USPS) Wars are still alive and well. All smaller wars than the CRW, but wars nonetheless, especially the thousands of voters in Florida who were denied the right to vote in 2000.

            The idea that, “OK, once all the people who were around when we really sucked on race die off, we’ll finally be able to convince black people to love tax cuts and social spending cuts” is something I truly don’t believe. The vast majority of African-American’s don’t vote for Democrat’s just because of racial animus from the GOP. They vote because they’re liberal on economic issues.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              Also the “He’s an affirmative action president”, “He can’t talk without a teleprompter”, and “He hates white people” wars. Because nothing makes a better impression on black voters than “Even the ones of you who succeed are no damn good.”Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              Let’s discuss it after this, Jesse, it’ll be nourishing. My prof friend slipped my thought into the discussion the other night, and the old CRM lions nodded. Mournfully, really. The fruit of their struggle? Barack is and was it, really. The kids don’t get it. No one stands to take his place.Report

  29. Avatar Sierra Nevada says:

    As to addressing the post, my explanation is the same for either party. Politics is a game played for very high stakes, and attracts huge resources. Commercial media have a strong economic interest in closely contested elections, to maximize media buys by campaigns, so most campaigns are close affairs, with very small margins separating victory from defeat.

    With close margins, you win some, you lose some. The serious players on both sides know that, and plan accordingly. In this election, if “my side” loses, I will say that the other side got hot at the right time, and then I will look forward to the next election. I can’t really cover for the fringe on my side, because the magical thinking they employ varies widely.Report