October 21, 2008

The Dowd Report: Christendom's most obnoxious corporate lawyer weighs in on behalf of his client, the Senior Senator from Arizona, in a letter to the editor of the New York Times:
I am advised that you have assigned two of your top reporters to spend an extensive amount of time in Arizona and around the country investigating Cindy (McCain)'s life including her charity, her addiction and her marriage to Senator McCain. None of these subjects are news.


These allegations and efforts to hurt Cindy have been a matter of public record for sixteen years. Cindy has been quite open and frank anbert her issues for all these years. Any further attempts to harass and injure based on the information from Gosinski and Clark will be met with an appropriate response. While she may be in the public eye, she is not public property nor the property of the press to abuse and defame.

It is worth noting that you have not employed your investigative assets looking into Michelle Obama. You have not tried to find Barack Obama’s drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father. Nor have you interviewed his poor relatives in Kenya and determined why Barack Obama has not rescured them. Thus there is a terrific lack of balance here.
The reference to Obama's "poor relatives in Kenya" is a nice touch. This is the same John Dowd who spent a good deal of the late-eighties conducting a fatwa against Pete Rose, investigating his private life over a subject that had a good deal less importance than the behavior of the life-partner of a potential future President. More recently, Dowd had a very different attitude when it came to the private life of past and present major league baseball players.

So stay classy, John.

October 20, 2008

The '56 Conundrum: In every close Presidential election, some notice is usually paid to the uncanny record of Missouri in picking the winning candidate. Since 1900, the Show Me State has backed the next President in all but one election, with the exception being the narrow vote for Adlai Stevenson over Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. With its location, just about dead-center of the country, and its urban-rural split, it should be inevitable that it would play such a role historically.

But the one thing that never gets explained is what the hell happened in '56. Why did Adlai Stevenson, who was essentially a sacrificial lamb going up against perhaps the most popular man of the 20th Century, who failed to win any other electoral votes outside the Deep South (and even there, he did poorly for a pre-Civil Rights Era Democratic nominee, losing Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, as well as several border states), capture the state that year, when he failed to do so four years earlier, when he ran a more competitive campaign?

In the context of this election, it is usually pointed out that Stevenson, like Obama, was a popular politician from the neighboring state of Illinois. But in '52, Stevenson was an incumbent governor, whereas in '56, he had been out of office for four years, with no recent record to allure Missouri voters. And Stevenson was crushed both times in his home state. Do you think there's any chance Obama will do worse in Illinois than he does in Missouri this time around?

And it wasn't as if some local trend was pushing Missouri into the Democratic column at that time. Four years later, the state went for JFK, but by a margin barely greater than Stevenson's win in '56; in other words, it went back to reflecting the national mood.

So what was it? Was there some local issue in Missouri that swung the ultimate Swing State towards the Man from Libertyville in a year when he was losing by 20 points to Ike everywhere else? Did they feel some degree of kinship to former corporate lawyers from Chicago? Or did they just wake up on election morning and decide they liked the only Presidential nominee in history to have been born in Los Angeles? Your guess is as good as mine....

October 19, 2008

Where we were eight years ago: The last time two non-incumbants battled for the Presidency, Bush had a lead similar to the margin now enjoyed by Obama. Of course, Gore not only closed the gap, he won the popular vote, and only through some legal machinations in the Supreme Court was Bush able to hoist the Presidency.

A couple of points should be made from reviewing those numbers. Bush had a much larger lead throughout the summer than Obama had, but like Obama, lost all of it and then some after the other party's convention. Without a market crash or a boneheaded Veep pick, Gore maintained the lead through early October, when a series of poor debate performances allowed Bush to surge into the lead.

Second, the perception that Bush was headed into a decisive victory seems to have been shaped by two really awful tracking polls, by USA Today-Gallup and by an outfit called Voter.com. Both gave the Texas Governor sizeable, double-digit leads, while other polling outfits showed a much closer race. Voter.com doesn't seem to have done much more damage to the Republic since 2000, but USA Today-Gallup has been the consistent outlier showing a dead-even race this time. [link via Volokh]