October 01, 2004

He may have lost the first debate, but President Bush hopes to regain some of his momentum after receiving the endorsement of former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler. No word yet on whether Bush has picked up the all-important Earle Bruce endorsement, although football fans may remember the ideological contortions performed by Lou Holtz back in 1984, who may have been the only public figure in America to endorse both Walter Mondale and Jesse Helms.

September 30, 2004

And the conventional wisdom was supposed to be that having the first debate focus on foreign policy was to the President's benefit...Kerry started off nervous, but eventually took off, while Bush seemed ill-prepared, unable to improvise or think on his feet. More devastating for the President tonight was the fact that Kerry seemed more forceful, even, dare I say, tougher than his opponent. No obvious gaffes, for either candidate, but Kerry can't help but be pleased; foreign policy, and most importantly, Iraq, has been a drag on his campaign, but tonight went a long way towards neutralizing that Bush advantage.
On the way home from last night's Booze-and-Schmooze LA Press Club party in Beverly Hills, I drove by my old high school, Harvard (now Harvard-Westlake). There is now a gate surrounding much of the campus, an imposing castiron structure that, combined with the trees unnaturally planted along Coldwater Canyon Blvd., has seemingly cut the campus off from the rest of the planet. From the outside, it is almost impossible to see in (I can only imagine what it's like from the inside), so this beautiful school is now hidden away, its students shrouded more like convicts at San Quentin. Is this just a sign of the times, an attempt to keep out unwelcome visitors, or have the school trustees decided that their wards are best kept isolated from the rest of the world?

September 28, 2004

Read William Safire weeping about a "runaway prosecutor" trampling on the Constitution (including the "intrepid Judith Miller"), or Christopher Hitchens whining about "paranoid" October Surprise conspiracies, and try not to laugh...I guess we all just miss the day when the paranoid fantasies of pundits included the belief that the President of the United States was going after Al Qaeda in order to distract the public's attention from a semen-stained dress.

September 27, 2004

Another wacky poll from Gallup, this time showing Bush with an eight-point lead among "likely voters", but a thirteen-point lead with registered voters. There is no info provided about the partisan breakdown of whom they chose to interview, but since this is almost a reverse of their previous post-convention polls, which showed Bush with a larger lead among LV's than RV's, it stands to reason that in order to now give Bush a significant lead, Gallup has to find a sampling base where Republicans outnumber Democrats by close to a dozen points.

Or to put it another way, it is as if Gallup chose to poll only in the state of Montana, and use those results to extrapolate data for the entire nation. Now, it might well be that the national political landscape, post-9/11, now looks like Montana did four years ago, with a massive, historical partisan shift poised to give Bush a landslide victory reminiscent of FDR over Alf Landon, or Reagan over Mondale. Since Gallup's state polls (and other state polls, collected here by Donkey Rising) actually show a race similar to 2000, with Kerry comfortably ahead in California and New York, and swing states like Ohio and Florida within the margin of error, and since Gallup's national pre-election polling in 2000 also sucked, I'm going to stick my neck out just a little and predict that is not the case, and Kerry will probably pick up more than a dozen electoral votes.

Now, it may be easy to laugh off Gallup's quadrennial folly, but this poll (and others like it) have very serious tactical consequences. One of the ways in which polling data is used right now is to demoralize the side that's losing. If the punditocracy can convince enough people that Kerry is toast, or that he needs a miracle, perhaps in one of the debates, to turn around the election, the public perception that he can't win will set in. Through the use of rigged polling data, enthusiasm for the trailing candidate is diminished, his crowds dwindle, and his supporters marginalized and effectively silenced. And that is why the partisan breakdown of the polling sample is so important to know, and why any poll that doesn't provide that information be looked at with extreme skepticism.
In fact, the translation of the slogan on Hugh Hewitt's website is "The influence of Democrats must be destroyed". A bit fascistic, but not atypical for a conservative blog....
Bush Gets Swifted: Well, maybe correlation is causation, at least with respect to the recent focus on Bush's National Guard record: a new poll (by Fox, no less!!) shows that Bush's lead among veterans has been cut in half in the last month. By obsessing about Dan Rather for two weeks, it appears that conservative bloggers may have done the Kerry Campaign an invaluable favor by keeping the focus on a part of the Bush biography that does not redound to his credit. I guess that's just another example of the way the blogosphere is overturning the established order, challenging the hegemony of the Old Media in setting the terms for how the Law of Unintended Consequences can influence an election.