Archive for October 16th, 2008

October 16, 2008

Bandwagon psychology

Conservative blogger ZombieTime has an essay in which he discusses the influence of polling, media, suggestibility and peer pressure in politics:

Will the exaggerations become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as assumed, or are Obama supporters spinning further and further away from reality, constructing one unsupportable exaggeration on top of another — only to be stunned on election day when the actual results, once again, don’t match either their pre-vote opinion polling or their post-vote exit polling? Yet it may very well be that an army of glum, dispirited and pessimistic conservatives will reluctantly trudge to the polls on November 4, each one imagining they are the only remaining person in the entire country voting for McCain, and lo and behold — they’ll turn out to be a silent majority after all.

We didn’t hear Republicans pushing the argument that all the polls are wrong in early September, when John McCain was ahead by 5 points in the Gallup daily tracking poll. All polls inevitably include some error, but when you look at the RealClearPolitics compilation, what you’re looking at is surveys of tens of thousands of voters, conducted by several different organizations. They all show Obama ahead, and only differ about the size of his lead. Now look at the RCP compilation of battleground state polls. It’s the same story in state after state.

There is no doubt that voters — especially independent “swing” voters — can be manipulated by bandwagon psychology, as Zombie suggests. And media bias (including the way the media reports poll results) is part of that equation. At some point, however, those swing voters finally do swing one way or another, and the huge shift from Sept. 10 (McCain +5) to Oct. 9 (Obama +11) took place during the post-Labor Day period when independent voters are traditionally wooed and won. True, the polls have since tightened (now Obama +6), but it’s very difficult to imagine how the bandwagon could roll in the opposite direction far enough and fast enough to produce a GOP victory.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

UPDATE: Dave Weigel calls the ZombieTime essay “a great big wedding cake of stupid” and adds:

I talked to Republicans this week who were utterly convinced that at this point in 2004, Kerry was winning as big as Obama is now. He wasn’t!

I’ve heard that line myself, and think it must be coming from some talk-show hosts. And even if it were true, it still fails to overcome certain fundamental problems:

Conservatives who are living inside an echo chamber of Fox News and talk radio are getting a one-sided message, and don’t seem to realize that the average swing voter isn’t tuning into Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. I get tired of explaining this, but let me repeat myself once more:

  • ABC World News — 7.9 million viewers
  • NBC Nightly News — 7.9 million viewers
  • CBS Evening News — 5.9 million viewers
  • Fox: O’Reilly Factor — 4.0 million views

That is to say, the three broadcast network evening news shows have a combined viewership of 21.7 million — FIVE TIMES LARGER than the audience of the highest-rated Fox News show. And let’s look at the morning news shows:

  • NBC Today — 5.0 million viewers
  • ABC GMA — 4.3 million viewers
  • CBS Early Show — 2.7 million viewers
  • Fox & Friends — 1.5 million viewers

So the combined broadcast network morning audience (12 million viewers) is EIGHT TIMES LARGER than the Fox & Friends audience.

The vast majority of TV news consumers are still getting their news from the same old biased liberal media. Conservative alternative media have been very successful, but they don’t reach more than a fraction of the voting population.

If you’re inside the conservative echo chamber, it’s going to be difficult for you to believe that a majority of your fellow Americans could vote for Obama, but they’re not seeing what you’re seeing or hearing what you’re hearing. This is why so many conservatives were shocked by the 2006 results. They were inside the echo chamber where Sean Hannity was yelling, “Don’t believe the polls! Rick Santorum’s still got a fighting chance!”

Denial is not an effective political strategy, and neither is preaching to the converted. Unless Republicans can get over their recto-cranial inversion and develop some effective means to get a fair hearing for the conservative message outside the echo chamber, they’re never going to reverse this electoral decline that apparently began almost as soon as the 2004 election was over.

October 16, 2008

Viva Las Vegas!

Little Miss Attila has mounted a tip-jar fundraiser to pay her way to Nevada as a volunteer GOP election observer.

She says this is a matter of “national security” and, despite my cynical suspicion that it’s really about gin and blackjack, it’s a worthy cause either way.

October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber: Racist?

Katie Couric got the “get” with Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, now the world’s most famous plumber. Wurzelbacher said:

You know, I’ve always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question of–for once instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance . . . almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.

This obviously got a huge blog reaction, with lots of liberal bloggers implying that Joe is a racist. Of course, he applied the tap-dancing metaphor to both candidates, and while I suppose it might have been possible to compare Obama to Fred Astaire — a skinny guy with big ears — it’s kind of hard to find bigoted malevolence in the comparison to Davis, who (a) was universally beloved and (b) supported Richard Nixon in 1972.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin does a column on JTPDS (Joe The Plumber Derangement Syndrome) and says:

There are now tens of thousands of hits on the Internet for “Joe the Plumber racist.”

One of the top links? Me. But I still don’t understand how it’s an insult to compare someone to Sammy Davis, Jr., one of the most beloved entertainers in American history who was — brace yourselves for a neutral, objective fact here — a helluva tap-dancer, and proud of it:

October 16, 2008

Senator Government

A flub by Maverick is the tagline of the night, according to Michelle Malkin, who is surprisingly pleased with Juan McAmnesty. Considering her profound contempt for the man — oh, yes, she really does hate him — this is a rave review from her.

October 16, 2008


Most effective ad of the year, according to Frank Luntz:

If you’re a right-wing gazillionaire and want to give these guys a couple of zillion bucks to saturate the airwaves with this message, please do so immediately.

Also, while you’re handing out zillions, how about hitting the tip jar with a few bucks for me? “Spread the wealth around,” like Obama told Joe the Plumber.

October 16, 2008

The final debate

10:30 p.m. — John McCain was much, much better tonight. He stayed on the attack, and Obama spent a lot of time on the defensive. I don’t think this debate was the cliched “game changer,” but it’s certainly a vast improvement for McCain over his previous performances.

10:22 p.m. — Obama just said you have to be specific about how federal programs are going to be paid for. DAAYYUMMM.

10:21 p.m. — Obama just advocated higher teacher pay. BTW, did you know that public-school teachers make more than journalists? And teachers don’t have to blog boring debates.

10:18 p.m. — McCain’s talking choice and competition in education.

10:17 p.m. — Obama wants to “recruit … an army of new teachers.” Why? I don’t get why this line is considered a winner. Is he just pandering to teachers unions?

10:14 p.m. — Obama is still talking abortion. Let him have all the time he wants. Now he’s talking about “appropriate [sex] education.” How about, “Keep your britches on, kids”?

10:10 p.m. — Obama: “The court has to stand up when no one else will.” In other words, a 5-man majority of appointed-for-life justices is more important than every elected official in the country.

10:08 p.m. — They’ve got Obama talking abortion. “I think the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to a state referendum.” Where is that right, Senator? And why didn’t anyone notice it before 1973?

10:04 p.m. — Did McCain just say, “Senator McGovern”?

10:03 p.m. — Linked by Pam at Right Voices. Thanks.

10 p.m. — Who are these large businesses who don’t provide health care that Obama is talking about? McDonald’s? Wal-Mart?

9:58 p.m. — McCain’s down in the tall grass talking about health care and poverty, then suddenly — Joe the Plumber to the rescue! Joe the Plumber for President!

9:55 p.m. — McCain hits Obama on Hugo Chavez. ¡La educación es revolución!

9:53 p.m. — Obama: “Highly fuel-efficient car of the future.” Meet George Jetson …

9:52 p.m. — McCain: “Senator Obama, who has never traveled south of our border . . .” And? What’s the point?

9:49 p.m. — Obama: “We should look at off-shore drilling.” Look at it. Not do anything about it, but just look at it.

9:46 p.m. — Give us a number. Any number will do.

9:45 p.m. — 850 ZILLION DOLLARS!

9:41 p.m. — Obama speaks of government spending as “investing in the American people.” I always hated that “investment” rhetoric when Clinton used it — Clinton invented it, as far as I know — and I don’t like it any better now.

9:40 p.m. — Biden vs. Palin. Schieffer pitches one into Obama’s wheelhouse.

9:38 p.m. — Obama just spent 2 minutes talking about Bill Ayers and ACORN, which is 2 minutes more than he’s talked about them in any previous debate.

9:34 p.m. — McCain strongly defends his audiences. Very feisty. Where was this candidate during the first two debates?

9:32 p.m. — Obama is on defense tonight.

9:30 p.m. — McCain, who had interrupted to say “that’s not true” on Obama’s Big Lie, forgets to come back and bust him on it it when his turn comes.

9:27 p.m. — Again, Obama the excellent liar accuses McCain of running 100% negative ads. And outright lie, and he says it with utter confidence that nobody in the media will call him on it.

9:23 p.m. — McCain’s talking “climate change.” Ick.

9:22 p.m. — Obama voted for tort reform?

9:21 p.m. — If McCain had been this sharp in the first two debates . . .

9:18 p.m. — Obama wants to “focus on the programs that work.” Ick.

9:15 p.m. — Obama is an excellent liar. He lies confidently, boldly, and in such a way that, unless you actually know the facts, you’d never guess he was lying.

9:12 p.m. — Dang, Maverick’s feisty tonight.

Sorry to be joining it a little late tonight. Liveblogging at Ace of Spades, Hot Air and Michelle Malkin.

October 16, 2008

200K bad registrations in Ohio?

Flaming skull at Ace over this story:

Since Jan. 1, Ohio has 666,000 newly registered or updated voters — all of whom fall under scrutiny by this latest court ruling. [Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer] Brunner said an initial review found that at least 200,000 of them might have mismatched information. Once the office identifies all of the mismatched voters, Brunner will send the list to the county boards of election where the individuals have registered.

According to the Census Bureau, Ohio’s population grew by 125,000 from 2000 to 2006. The state’s adult (18+) population in 2004 was about 8.7 million, and the statewide total vote for president in 2004 was about 5.6 million.

Ohio’s new registrations are thus equal to 12% of the 2004 total vote in the state, whereas the state’s population has been growing about 0.2% annually. The sheer size of the increase in registration — dwarfing the population increase — is suspicious.

It is quite likely that very aggressive methods (conducting registration drives in public places like malls, etc.) meant duplicate registrations for people who were already registered (e.g., via motor-voter) but hadn’t voted recently and so weren’t sure whether they were registered or not.

Studies consistently show a high correlation between voting and socio-economic status. The higher the income and education level, the more likely you’ll vote regularly. Therefore, people who seldom or never vote — which will be most of those genuine new registrations gathered by aggressive methods — will prove to be people with very low income and education, including 18-to-24-year-olds. The farther you go down the socioeconomic scale the more you find people with unstable habits (including drug addicts and criminals) who change residences frequently, making them difficult to target through canvassing and GOTV efforts.