Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Study in Political Malpractice: JSM III Edition

John Sidney McCain III's pick of Sarah Palin to be his running mate has to make one seriously wonder if he is off of his rocker. Now, I hardly ever engage in hyper-partisan attacks and I'm not now; but it's time to recognize and talk about the fact that this is either a man who is no longer behaving in a rationale manner or a man so detached that he is letting ill-informed advisers sink his campaign. I won't presume to guess which is the case; but either should scare ordinary Americans.

His choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate is perhaps the most brash, irresponsible political move by a national candidate in over a generation. And that's not hyperbole. Objectively speaking, it appears to also be a decision that is electorally disastrous.

Now I am a strong Democrat and a strong supporter of Senator Obama since the day he announced, but lets look at the facts in an objective manner:

* Palin gives the GOP ticket little to no direct electoral or geographic help. She does probably put Alaska in the bank for McCain, but nothing else. Alaska is also so unique and small of a state cut off from the rest of the country that no other state is similar enough demographic wise to help the ticket out.

* I think she may well have a cultural problem. As Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic wrote : "The moose stew stuff and her childrens' names may be geographically and culturally appropriate, but pardon me if I surmise that some folks in the Pennsylvania T aren't going to be entranced." This goes back to my earlier point about how Alaska has such a disconnect to even the Rocky Mountain states and the Pacific Northwest.

* This looks like an affirmative action pick, when running against a black guy.

* This looks desperate a la Mondale in 1984. McCain going into Denver was down about five points, not fifteen. He did not need such a gamble. The American people like steadiness and confidence, not someone who's trying a lob a Hail Mary down the field.

* It looks overtly political. Now every decision, and especially the running mate, is an explicitly political decision; however it is never good to make those decisions look at least semi-non political. No one not on RNC payroll realizes that this is some sort of effort to win over women; specifically Clinton voters. Imagine how it'd look if someone put a state wide official from Ohio or Florida (Charlie Crist not being able to pass vetting aside...) on the ticket. That's what this is, but worse.

* So much for that whole experience thing. Obama-Biden now has over a decade of more elected office experience than McCain-Palin.

* Some Republican operative friends of mine, to be fair, have stated optimism about Palin helping with GOP-leaning women independents in the suburbs. While this is possible, the potential upside is marginal compared to the risk.

* On that note, once those women in the Philly burbs find out Palin is against teaching evolution and is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape, they very well could be repelled.

* Yes, the GOP base loves her. But McCain was already polling in the upper 80s with Republicans; and while its possible she helps with turnout, it only helps him with those already voting for him.

* The one bit of caution I do have is to be careful in dealing with her. Biden especially needs to be careful not to be Rick Lazio and appear as a bully in the VP debate. I'd also refrain from asking how she can be VP and raise a down-syndrome baby. Palin isn't a threat, right now, so be aware of that fact and don't set us up for a backlash.

Overall, while there are possibilities of upside for McCain here, those are slim and marginal. He was a slight underdog in this race, now Obama is the prohibitive favorite. I don't know who ultimately made this decision, but it was irrational and brash. I would admit, as I would had Willard Mitt Romney been the pick, if McCain's running mate was a smart move; but Palin is a horrible and reason-defying choice. My friends, we just got our Christmas present early.

McCain Proves Why He's the Risky Choice. Fails First Test

In his first test to prove himself as qualified to be President, John Sidney McCain has failed. John McCain, not Barack Obama, is the riskier choice.  He's perhaps the riskiest choice in modern history.  His judgement in choosing Palin is all the proof we need.

Palin, with absolutely no foreign policy experience, an undergraduate degree in Journalism, Governor for only a year and a half, and former mayor of a tiny town is McCain's top choice for who should become President in the event of an emergency?  And he met her just once in his life before asking her to be his veep?  McCain and Palin do have one qualification in common. Palin owns a lot of homes too!  Three to be exact.   

Quite simply, any man with a resume this thin would have been passed over.  It's as if the campaign is a game to McCain, full of ploys and strategies to win. McCain is putting politics and winning an election above the security of the nation by choosing Palin. It's Bush to the core! Win at all costs.  

Here's David Gergen's take:

Paul Begala on McCain's pick: 
"For a man who is 72 years old and has had four bouts with cancer to have chosen someone so completely unqualified to become president is shockingly irresponsible. Suddenly, McCain's age and health become central issues in the campaign, as does his judgment."
Former Bush speech writer, David Frum:
"It's a wild gamble, undertaken by our oldest ever first-time candidate for president in hopes of changing the board of this election campaign. Maybe it will work. But maybe (and at least as likely) it will reinforce a theme that I'd be pounding home if I were the Obama campaign: that it's John McCain for all his white hair who represents the risky choice, while it is Barack Obama who offers cautious, steady, predictable governance."
Del Ali, President of Research 2000
"In my estimation as a pollster and analyst, while historic for the GOP in selecting their first woman on a national ticket, this choice may be the worst selection by a major party nominee for President in modern times."
The reaction of my mother who happens to be a registered Republican who's voting for Obama:

"To me this is a smoke screen McCain can hide behind. They will use her as new gift wrap around the last eight years of an old package. Would a man be picked with such a short resume? Of course not!"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Northern Exposure

Raw Steak On Blue Plate As I try to make sense of John McCain's decision to choose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, there is just no escaping the fact that it is a desperate act of pandering to women voters. I guess McCain just does not understand that, for political pandering to work, it cannot be too obvious. Otherwise, you run the risk of insulting the very people whose votes you are trying to get. McCain's choice of Palin veritably screams pandering. Women surely must be outraged.

Does John Sidney McCain III really believe that women voters, much less former supporters of Hillary Clinton, are going to be taken in by such a blatantly cynical move? Does he think women are that shallow?  Does McCain believe women are just not interested in the real political issues that affect their lives? Or maybe he's been listening to too much Rush Limbaugh...

Sarah Palin is a hard-right conservative whose political views are anathema to everything Senator Clinton stands for. Does the Arizona Senator seriously imagine that any significant number of Independent or Democratic women will vote for him just because he has a woman on the ticket? Talk about disrespect... !

Attempting to attract women voters by putting Sarah Palin on the ticket is a bit like choosing Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) for VP in hopes of getting the gay vote. 

Sad, Senator McCain, very sad...

Press Release - National Organization for Women

Not Every Woman Supports Abortion Rights
August 29, 2008

Statement of NOW PAC Chair Kim Gandy on the Selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's Vice Presidential Pick

Sen. John McCain's choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate is a cynical effort to appeal to disappointed Hillary Clinton voters and get them to vote, ultimately, against their own self-interest.

Gov. Palin may be the second woman vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, but she is not the right woman. Sadly, she is a woman who opposes women's rights, just like John McCain.

The fact that Palin is a mother of five who has a 4-month-old baby, a woman who is juggling work and family responsibilities, will speak to many women. But will Palin speak FOR women? Based on her record and her stated positions, the answer is clearly No.

In a gubernatorial debate, Palin stated emphatically that her opposition to abortion was so great, so total, that even if her teenage daughter was impregnated by a rapist, she would "choose life" -- meaning apparently that she would not permit her daughter to have an abortion.

Palin also had to withdraw her appointment of a top public safety commissioner who had been reprimanded for sexual harassment, although Palin had been warned about his background through letters by the sexual harassment complainant.

What McCain does not understand is that women supported Hillary Clinton not just because she was a woman, but because she was a champion on their issues. They will surely not find Sarah Palin to be an advocate for women.

Sen. Joe Biden is the VP candidate who appeals to women, with his authorship and championing of landmark domestic violence legislation, support for pay equity, and advocacy for women around the world.

Finally, as the chair of NOW's Political Action Committee, I am frequently asked whether NOW supports women candidates just because they are women. This gives me an opportunity to once again answer that question with an emphatic 'No.' We recognize the importance of having women's rights supporters at every level but, like Sarah Palin, not every woman supports women's rights.

Electoral Update - Waitin' for the Bounce

If you still hold doubts about Barack Obama's toughness, you clearly missed his acceptance speech. After McCain attacked Obama's patriotism, the gloves had to come off.

After gaining on Obama throughout August, polls are now suggesting a sputter in the McCain attack strategy.

Today's tracking polls reveal a serious gain for Obama.  Gallup's tracking poll shows Obama now with an eight point lead, and Rasmussen gives him a four point favor.  This is a much different picture than where we were during the middle of August when these two flagship polls suggested the race to be much closer.

Although there are scattered indications that Obama will get a significant bounce from his selection of Biden and the Democratic Convention, there are not yet credible polls from swing states to make any changes in our projection this week.  Not enough polling data is available yet to move any of our swing states in either direction.  

A new Mason Dixon poll now shows Obama with a 1% lead in Florida. Although within the margin of error, the poll is significant because, until now, McCain had led in every poll this month. We're keeping Florida in the McCain column for now until more polling is released.

Two of the last three polls in Colorado show Obama leading again.  Suffolk puts Obama up by five while CNN shows McCain leading by one. 

PPP shows Obama now leading in Virginia by 2%, and Obama is stretching his lead in New Mexico.  The race in Ohio is still a dead heat.  Nevada is on the verge of turning blue again as Obama has led in the last two consecutive polls.

Alaska's three electoral votes may be in the bag for McCain with Palin now on the ticket.  We'll wait to see as more data becomes available.  The same can be said about Pennsylvania with Biden on board.  Overall, it's too early to see how much momentum Obama will have going into next week's Republican Convention.  I suspect Obama's numbers will shift in his favor in every swing state, especially Colorado and Ohio.  Republicans will have a very hard time equaling the Democratic show we saw this week.

How do You Spell Potato?

"...what is it exactly that the VP does every day?"
                                                    -- Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK)
 August 1, 2008, in an interview on CNBC's Kudlow & Company.

Oh, J. Danforth, how we have missed you!

Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech

A moment I will never forget. For those who missed it or want to see it again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oregon State Police Association Backs Merkley

According to a published report in the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard, the Oregon State Police Officers Association has endorsed Democrat Jeff Merkley in his race for the US Senate. Merkley is challenging incumbent Republican Gordon Smith.

The head of the law enforcement group, Jeff Leighty, cited Merkley's leadership in the Oregon legislature as one of the key factors in the State Troopers' endorsement. Among other items, Merkley helped pass legislation that restored funding for some 100 trooper positions in the state.

ElectBlue congratulates Mr. Merkley on this endorsement. We urge our readers to support the Merkley campaign by visiting its website and offering whatever help you can. There is also a direct link to the Merkley campaign official website at their logo on the left side of the ElectBlue homepage.

Tuke Introduces "Real" Alexander

The US Senate race in Tennessee between Democratic challenger Bob Tuke and incumbent Republican Lamar Alexander may not yet be generating a lot of attention in the traditional media, but the battle is definitely underway on the new playing field of modern politics: the internet.

Tuke has produced a couple of videos that are sure to make Lamar squirm. The first one hammers the theme "Lamar Alexander May Not Be Who You Think," undercutting our sitting senator's rather dishonest image as a folksy, moderate, flannel-wearing populist.

Hosted on Nashvillepost's political page, the spot reminds viewers that, contrary to what he would have you believe, Alexander supports extending the war in Iraq, has voted with George W. Bush 90% of the time, and has taken more than $330,000 from big oil companies. Hardly the Euell Gibbons-type, eh? (Kids, ask your parents ....)

In the video below, Tuke tweaks Alexander for flip-flopping on his support for the flat tax, which at times Republicans have treated as a holy grail -- and at other times have treated like poison. In the spot, the 2008 Alexander heartily embraces and promotes the concept that the 1996 Alexander calls "a nutty idea."

All in all, it's good viewing to everyone whose name is not Lamar Alexander. Or Honey.

Lunsford Receives Chandler Endorsement in KY Senate Race

Bruce Lunsford has received the endorsement of Democratic U.S. Representative Ben Chandler of Kentucky's 6th Congressional District in Lunsford's bid to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.  Yesterday, the Lunsford campaign released the following statement from Denver, site of the Democratic National Convention:

Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler of Kentucky’s 6th District officially endorsed Bruce Lunsford in his race for U.S. Senate against Mitch McConnell. Chandler made the announcement this morning during a Kentucky Delegation breakfast at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
“I am delighted that Ben has publicly expressed the support that he’s been expressing to me privately throughout the year,” said Lunsford, who attended the breakfast. “I’m thrilled to have Ben’s endorsement, and very grateful for it. Ben and I are united in the fight to put an end to the Bush-McConnell policies that have damaged Kentucky and the nation this decade.  For many years, Ben Chandler has been an important leader in Kentucky, and I know Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush realize that when Democrats are united behind a cause, it spells trouble for them.”

Rep. Chandler is the grandson of  legendary Kentucky Democrat, A. B. "Happy" Chandler. In a long and colorful career, Happy Chandler served as Governor, US Senator and Commissioner of Major League Baseball.  Rep. Chandler is also a super-delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, supporting Barack Obama

ElectBlue congratulates Mr. Lunsford on this important endorsement.

Best Line Of The Night

Our order for red meat finally made it to the table.
"It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

US Senate Projection - Forecast Still Solid For Democrats

There are 10 weeks left until Election day, and there's good news for Democrats.  They are in no danger of losing any seats, and favored to steal at least five away from Republicans.  At no other time this year have Democrats had a more realistic chance of claiming 60 seats in the Senate than right now.

Democrats begin their fight for 60 seats in the Senate with 50 seats.  We're not counting Lieberman as he may get the boot this week at the DNCC.  Most projections, including our own, have Democrats picking up these seats:

1.  VA- Warner
2. NH- Shaheen
3. CO - Udall, Mark
4. NM - Udall, Tom
5.  AK - Begich

With these pickups all but in the bag, Democrats are confident of controlling at least 55 seats in the 111th Senate.

AR - Pryor
AK- Begich +1MN - Franken/ColemanID - Jim RischAL - Sessions
DE - BidenCO- Udall +1NC - Hagan/DoleKY - McConnellKS - Roberts
IA - HarkinLA- LandrieuME - CollinsMS* - Cochran
IL - DurbinTN - AlexanderNE - Johanns
MA - KerryOR - SmithSC - Graham
MI - LevinGA - ChamblissTX - Cornyn
MT - BaucusOK - InhoffeWY* - Enzi
NH - Shaheen +1MS* - WickerWY* - Barrasso
NJ - Lautenburg
NM - Udall +1
RI - Reed
SD - Johnson
VA - Warner +1
WV - Rockefeller

Hagan Will Beat Dole

Kay Hagan in North Carolina has built incredible momentum.  One month ago, she was trailing Dole by 8-10%.  Now, the race is tied.  At her current pace, Hagan will be leading Dole within a few weeks.  The last three polls in this race now show Hagan within the margin of error, and one Insider Advantage poll has the race tied.  Hagan has been relentless in exposing Dole's ties to big oil and has focused the attention of voters squarely on a failing economy.  The Dole ship is taking on water, and it's bound to sink soon (if we're lucky).  We've moved this race from leans Republican to tossup.  Here's Hagan's latest ad.

Franken Hits Coleman's Ties To Bush

In our other tossup race, Al Franken continues to keep the heat on Norm Coleman.  In the latest poll from University of Minnesota, Franken leads by 1% (Franken 41, Coleman 40, Barkley 8, Undecided 11). Franken is framing this election around a sagging economy and Coleman's ties to George Bush.  Franken has even launched a new website to drive home his message.

Coleman's high disapproval rating (42%), and a high enthusiasm level for Democrats play to Franken's advantage.  Not in Franken's favor is the fact that this is a three way race. Both he and Independent, Dean Barkley, rely on support from voters who want change.  If Franken can persuade enough Barkley supporters to vote for him instead, he should win.  Franken also needs to capture a majority of the large number of voters (11%) who remain undecided.

Coleman is relying on an all-out effort to convince voters he suddenly has solutions for energy. He does have stronger support from his own party than Franken, and he currently leads amongst swing voters.  We're keeping this race in the tossup column until someone gains momentum.  Here's Al's latest ad tying Coleman to Bush. 

There are a few other races we're keeping a close eye on.  Democrat Jeff Merkley seems to have slipped somewhat in Oregon.  Two August polls both show the Republican incumbent, Gordon Smith, leading by an average of six points.  As a result, we've moved this race from tossup to leans Republican. The same can be said for Democrat Ronnie Musgrove who trails Roger Wicker by 9 points in the past two polls.  This race now leans Republican as well.

Two races off the radar have caught us by surprise.  A new Rasmussen poll in Georgia puts Republican incumbent, Saxby Chambliss, up by only six points over Jim Martin. We've moved this race from safe Republican to leans Republican until more polls are released.  Also, in Oklahoma, Andrew Rice (D), who was down by 20 points last month to incumbent Republican, Jim Inhofe, is now down only by 9 points according to a poll last week.  This race, for now, also moves to leaning Republican.

Democrats can get to magic 60 if they sweep the board.  They'll need to win in NC and MN for sure.  The next three closest races appear to be Oregon, Mississippi, and Kentucky.  Democrats are capable of winning in each case.  Georgia appears to be in play now too. 

We encourage everyone to support these Democratic candidates (left margin) today by making a contribution.  With your help, they can make the necessary changes that are needed to put the economy back on track and restore dignity and honor to our broken government.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lunsford Comes On Strong in KY Senate Race against McConnell

Democratic candidate for the US Senate from Kentucky, Bruce Lunsford, is hitting incumbent Republican Senator (and Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell on McConnell's close ties to big oil companies. Here's a sample from a recent Lunsford ad:
Mitch McConnell’s buddies in Big Oil just recorded the biggest profits in history,” Lunsford says,“How are you doing? On average, Big Oil CEOs got paid $15 million last year. How about you? And after 24 years in the Senate, Mitch McConnell has become a multi-millionaire. Guess who paid for that? You did. I’m Bruce Lunsford and I approve this message, because when your Senator and his special interest pals are doing so much better than you, it’s time for a change.
...and again in a recent statement from the Lunsford campaign:  
While Mitch McConnell’s buddies at Big Oil have seen record profits this year, and earned an average of $15 million in pay last year, Mitch McConnell has become a multi-millionaire on the taxpayer dime. Mitch McConnell has forgotten where he comes from and is not on our side.  He is no longer the Senator from the great Commonwealth of Kentucky; he is now the Senator from Big Oil. It is time for a change.
Lunsford, a Louisville businessman, has kept this race close not only with hard-hitting ads about McConnell's links to big oil, but also by accusing the Senator of having a record of little or no accomplishments that benefit the people of Kentucky.

On the campaign trail, Lunsford repeatedly draws a sharp contrast between McConnell's personal financial position and that of most Kentuckians. Although there are no polls more recent than early August, it seems pretty clear that Lunsford's aggressive campaign has given the Bluegrass Democrat a real shot at upsetting Mr. McConnell.

ElectBlue urges our readers to help Lunsford win this seat for the Democrats. It's a rare opportunity to knock off the top Republican in the Senate. You can visit the official Lunsford campaign website by clicking on the hyperlink or you can click the Lunsford campaign logo on the left side of our home page.

Quote for this Week... and next

We are now on the eve of two weeks of non-stop coverage of the two major parties' national conventions.  During this time it will be helpful to keep in mind the following assessment of the mainstream media's handling of political news.  It comes from Marcos Moulitsas, founder of the DailyKos, as reported by Michael Calderone of Politico:

"[political coverage in the mainstream media is ] utterly vapid, devoid of context, frequently wrong, and wedded to narratives that defy all logic and reality."

Amen.  I'm keeping my blood pressure medication handy.

The State of the Race and Dispelling Media Myths

With the Democratic National Convention set to kick off in Denver, polls are being released galore to provide a baseline before the most condensed and eventful two weeks in recent political history commences. One poll that caught my attention today was the Washington Post/ABC News poll that was conducted late last week, it provides many details on a host of questions and shows that much of the media narrative is non-sense.

Let’s first get down to the pure brass tacks of the poll, which I consider one of the more reputable ones out there, mainly because they’re more transparent about their methodology and release detailed information broken down by demographic.

Obama leads McCain 48-42% in a four way contest (With Nader and Barr) among likely voters, which is basically where the race has been, sans some minor ebbs in both directions, for months. Despite the much talked about negative (and allegedly, effective) attacks by John Sidney McCain III, Obama still sports a 62-34% favorable rating (McCain’s is a robust 59-37% as well). In comparison, at this point in 2004, John Kerry’s favorable rating was only in the +10% range and never did exceed a 55% favorable rating…while Obama, after a much more bruising primary, is flirting with 2:1 territory and one that is extraordinary stable.

Let’s talk about some other myths that this poll puts to rest:

Obama isn’t connecting on the economy

He leads McCain on the economy by a 50-39% margin.

McCain is killing Obama on the drilling issue!

Obama leads 49-42% on Energy issues.

Additionally, Obama is keeping McCain’s advantage among terrorism to a mere 52-38% margin, is tied with him with Iraq and taxes; and sports a double digit lead in social issues.

Here’s another myth:

Obama is underperforming the usual Democratic strength among whites, women, and Hispanics.

While John Kerry lost whites by a 41-58% margin (From 1992-2004, the Democratic nominee ranged from 39-42% of the white vote), Obama only trails McCain 49-43% among whites; and that’s with a decent amount of undecideds and at least a fraction of those will break for Obama. Obama leads among women 55-37% over performing John Kerry, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton’s margin among females, sometimes by significant margins.

Of course, married women are a real weakness for Obama, right? All those angry Hillary supporters will harm his candidacy fatally, no? He leads 48-44, a group that voted for Bush by 11 points four years ago.

Well then, naturally whites making less than 50K are a weakness for Obama? Well he leads by a 49-40% margin, where Kerry lost this group by 7 points.
As for Hispanics, he overperforms Kerry by a significant margin as well, leading 61-27% among the group that Kerry only got 57% with. A particular strong showing against a Southwestern Senator from a border state, who is a moderate on immigration.

Obama has even made significant strides among traditionally Republican voters. While George Bush won White Evangelicals by a 78-21% margin, Obama has cut the GOP advantage to a 65-27% margin; a near twenty point swing. He is also polling double what John Kerry did among self-described Republicans. While he still faces insurmountable deficits among those groups, in a close election those are significant number of votes gained.

While I know the storyline of working class white Americans and other groups that Obama underperformed with in the primary not supporting a black candidate is intriguing, it just isn’t based in the data.

While, it is still a tight race, it is a static one and one that still favors Senator Obama. This race has potential to be fluid soon though, with two conventions in the next ten days. But for now, the media coverage is fundamentally not honest. No wonder, since the media is in the tank for John Sidney McCain III. And why wouldn’t they be? He cooks BBQ for them at his retirement estate in Sedona, AZ.

But let’s be honest about the state of the race.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Change Worth Fighting For

The chattering classes are swarming around the notion of a new Obama campaign strategy to go negative now that Joe Biden is on the ticket. Pundits have already speculated that independents and moderates who've bought into Obama's hope of "change we can believe in" will be deflated if such assumptions turn out to be true.  Young voters, perhaps, will then write off 2008 as just another politics as usual campaign.

Not so fast.

Americans don't want to vote for someone who refuses to fight back!   Let's not forget who started throwing punches to begin with.  We could stomach the Paris and Britney ads, and some of us thought the Moses ad was even humorous.

But when John McCain launched his Rovebomb assertion that Obama would rather lose the war in Iraq than lose the election, the gloves had to come off.  John McCain, a so-called maverick, accused a sitting US Senator of putting an election above winning a war, de facto treason.  If that's not attacking his patriotism, nothing is.

Raw Steak On Blue Plate

In another example of going negative first, a McCain television ad accusing Obama of supporting a tax increase on those making $42,000 was nothing short of a lie.  It wasn't "misleading."  Not a "misrepresentation."  Not a "misstatement."  It was a lie.

Our federal government is a filthy wreck after eight years of George Bush.  And the McCain campaign represents the dirty mess that Washington D.C. is in as a result.  The cleanup Washington needs will take a relentless string of hard-hitting punches from Obama and Biden as they counter the smear and lies from the GOP.  That's not negative campaigning in my opinion.  It's fighting for change we can believe in.  

With so much at stake, you can bet your sweet bippy there will indeed be a fight.  Republicans brought this one on themselves, all by themselves.  We cannot afford one more day, let alone four more years of the same failed policies of George W. Bush.  I predict 2008 to be an all-out political war of the ages.  With millions of supporters standing firm behind them, Barack Obama and Joe Biden aren't alone as they lead the battle to restore dignity and honor to our broken government.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hillary Weighs In On Biden Pick

Early this morning, Senator Hillary Clinton issued this statement about Obama's selection of Biden as his Vice-Presidential nominee:

In naming my colleague and friend, Joe Biden, to be the vice presidential nominee, Barack Obama has continued in the best traditions for the vice presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant. Senator Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic vice president who will help Senator Obama both win the presidency and govern this great country

Well said Senator Clinton. I hope your supporters are listening.

What We Have To Look Forward To

In the last twenty minutes several news outlets have confirmed that Senator Joe Biden will be Senator Obama's Vice-Presidential running mate.

This is a choice that works on many levels. Biden brings some serious foreign policy chops to the ticket, he's a happy warrior, who will be an excellent attack dog with a grin, and is an excellent campaigner on a hand-to-hand level; and from a political standpoint will help Obama clear the commander-in-chief threshold, and make inroads among some key demographics (and may well put Pennsylvania in the bank).

Biden is also a smart choice from a governing standpoint. Biden is a pragmatic and effective legislator; and there are few others that I would want to see help run our country in an effective, smart, and responsible manner.

But what is the best thing about having Biden on the ticket? We have wonderful responses to GOP attacks like this to look forward to:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Media Reports All Point to Biden as VP

Reports from several major media outlets all point to Delaware Senator Joe Biden as Barack Obama's choice of a running mate:

- several hours ago, NBC News' Andrea Mitchell reported she had learned that both VA Governor Tim Kaine and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh had been informed by the Obama campaign that neither would be be the Democratic Veep nominee;

- two hours later, CNN confirmed the same information: Kaine and Bayh were out;

- within the past hour, ABC News is reporting that a detail of US Secret Service agents have been dispatched to Biden's Delaware home.

This is looking more and more conclusive. It seems a near certainty now that Biden is the man. Of course, it's worthwhile noting that each of the major news organizations have been wrong before, but the the chances of someone other than Biden being tapped for the Democratic Vice-Presidential slot seem very remote indeed. 

Why doesn't my cell phone have a text message yet? 

The Newest Fare from ElectBlue

ElectBlue is pleased to add a new feature to our site. We're calling it the Blue Plate Special. The icon that appears here to the left will be used to identify every Blue Plate Special blog we publish 

These blogs will contain a hefty dose of political red meat. You know the kind of stuff we're talking about. These posts will be especially edgy, sharp and - dare we say it - sometimes negative. The Blue Plate Specials are guaranteed to please the true blue faithful and to annoy the dickens out of Republicans.  

The Blue Plate Special icon will also be used to mark those blogs which pointedly and directly refute the latest right-wing smears and whisper campaigns against Barack Obama or any of the key US Senate candidates ElectBlue has selected for special support. We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take it anymore!

So whenever you've got an appetite for some provocative political writing with a real kick to it, look for the blogs marked with the Blue Plate Special icon. We're sure these posts will get your juices flowing. Enjoy and bon appetit!

Electoral Update - Enough Is Enough. Obama Fights Back.

Last week's Electoral Projection focused on the Democrat's chances in Alaska and John McCain's climb up the electoral ladder. In this week's projection, McCain keeps on climbing in Missouri, and Obama is still stuck in the electoral mud.

Over the past three weeks, the nation has witnessed a flurry of GOP bombs hurled at Barack Obama.  Besides the Paris and Brittany ads attacking his popularity, a slew of anti-Obama books have hit the shelves including Corsi's The Obama Nation.  The attacks worked, and projections everywhere, including our own, show McCain gaining serious ground while Obama remains flat (graph). Meanwhile, the media pile on.

As national numbers have drifted toward John McCain's favor, so have battlegrounds like Missouri where Obama has now fallen behind in the last three consecutive polls by an average of 7 points.  As a result, we've moved Missouri from tossup to McCain.

We've been waiting for several days for Obama to change the dialogue of this election. And just three weeks ago, I was asking, "Where's the beef?" in Obama's campaign. The Mister Nice Guy approach hasn't worked for him since March when Hillary Clinton began throwing flames of her own. 

So finally, after closing his eyes and taking a vacation, Obama is fighting back.  Last week, in a first sign of showing teeth, Obama firmly warned John McCain to not question his patriotism. And yesterday,  Obama tore into McCain's perceived notion of a "fundamentally strong economy" and reminded Americans of McCain's wealthy lifestyle. I get the sense that Obama is getting sick of being pushed around by the playground bully.   

The new aggressive strategy is almost certain to be a preamble of what's to come at next week's Democratic Convention in Denver. After eight years of losing close elections as a result of not waging an all-out political war, the new strategy will be well received.  The words of George W. Bush are rarely appropriate, but for this moment, they are.  "Bring it on!"

We're starting to see a finer definition of where the battlegrounds are going to be in 2008. If the election remains close, it appears the race for the White House will be won or lost in Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Ohio (20), Florida (27), Nevada (5), and North Carolina (15).  

Barack Obama needs to win just 18 electoral votes in states where Kerry lost.*  He's off to a good start with leads in Bush states, NM (5) and IA (7), but that won't be enough.  The battlegrounds listed above represent 89 electoral votes where Obama is most capable of winning.  He cannot afford to lose ground in places like Minnesota and New Hampshire where Obama is ahead but by smaller margins than he was one month ago.
* Kerry fell 19 electoral votes shy of 270 in 2008 with one elector from MN voting for John Edwards.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

7 McMansions

It's not only John McCain's $520 pair of Neiman Marcus shoes that's raising eyebrows these days.  There's more.  This makes John Edwards fancy haircut pale in comparison.  

I've never been quite sure how Obama could be labeled an elitist anyhow when John McCain...

...has lost count of how many homes he owns  *audio
UPDATE  McCain owns 5...6...7...  8 homes and paid "hired help" to maintain those homes $270,000 last year! married to his second wife, who happens to be an heiress to a $100 million beer fortune. both the son and grandson of US Navy Admirals. Silver spoon?

...received the best education money can buy at the private, elite, Episcopal High School. Today's students pay a mere $41,000 a year in tuition per year.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Delusions... but no grandeur

This weekend's forum with Barack Obama and John McCain at Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church provided three separate incidents which give us some insight into the Arizona Senator's current  state of mind. Although each of these incidents is not particularly important in and of itself, the three of them taken together make one wonder about Mr. McCain's grip on reality -- or perhaps his grip on the truth.

1.  McCain named civil rights icon and US Representative John Lewis (D-GA) as one of the three men he most admires and would consult often on important matters of policy. This revelation came as quite a surprise to Lewis, who told the MotherJones blog that McCain "does not consult me". Hmmm... 

2. At the beginning of his segment with Warren (which followed Obama's), McCain confirmed that he had been in the so-called 'cone-of-silence' unable to hear Warren's questions and the Illinois Senator's answers. He did so by admitting - jokingly - that he had been "listening at the walls".  As we all now know, this was simply untrue. By his own campaign's admission, McCain was in his car on the way to the church for a good portion of Obama's discussions with Warren. To give the impression that he was in fact in the cone of silence, straining at the walls to hear, was disingenuous at best. The excellent website,, has an succinct account of this story for those who might have missed it. Double hmmm...

3. Later in his conversation with Warren, McCain recounted a story he has often told about a North Vietnamese guard who drew a cross in the dirt while he (McCain) was a POW in Hanoi. My impression, as I listened to McCain relate this tale on Saturday night, was that it was somehow subtly different, in an oddly disconcerting way, from what I had heard the Arizona Senator say in previous tellings. The story, as McCain was now relating it, sounded very familiar somehow. It was a nagging feeling I had, but I couldn't quite figure out where I had heard or read a very similar story before.  Then, a couple of days ago, I ran across Mark Nicolas' blog on The Huffington Post... and eureka!  Of course! There was an eerily similar scene in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's great work, The Gulag Archipelago. Nicolas' well-researched and thoughtful blog is well worth a read. So, ok, triple hmmm...

Too clever by half? Overly disingenuous? Slightly delusional? I'm not sure, but I do know that these little tidbits from McCain's performance at Saddleback make me very uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable.

Whisper Campaigning

From A Whisper To A Scream
by John Brake

To some political observers, the return of “whispering campaigns” is reminiscent of the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano. But if the latest anti-Barack Obama murmur to hit my in-box is any indication, it makes more sense to compare the sneaky mudslinging tactic to a backed-up sewer.

For the uninitiated, whispering campaigns are how supporters of a given candidate -- say, John McSame -- spread lies and innuendo about his or her opponent.

They are comprised of disingenuous and dishonest talking points that candidates want voters to hear, but are too afraid to say themselves. These are sometimes silly (think "Al Gore claims he invented the internet"), but most often they are vicious and baseless smears ("Barack Obama is a radical Muslim who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance").

A variety of media collude to deliver the whispers to your eyes and ears. Radio and TV waves are saturated by callers who spread these lies on political talk shows. The editorial pages of our newspapers are filled with this garbage, often in the form of head-scratching conclusions to fallacious and illogical arguments.

Even our poor email in-boxes have become a battleground for this type of under-the-radar campaigning, and I got one today that took me from a whisper to a scream.

It arrived with the subject line, "Fw: Random Thoughts by Thomas Sowell."

I groaned in anticipation of what was to come.

We know Sowell to be a right-wing author and social commentator. Not the worst of that ilk, but not everyone can be Ann Coulter.

The email -- sent by an old classmate I invited to a high school reunion years ago who, inexplicably, added me to her permanent friends list -- was copied to dozens of addresses. Unsuspecting victims, I thought, as I scrolled down for the content.

The disclaimer read: "The article below was written by syndicated columnist, Thomas Sowell. He wrote it in a humorous way this past week in a column titled 'Random Thoughts' and published it in newspapers nationally, so maybe you've already seen it. If not, be my guest."

Fair enough, I thought.

Boy, was I was wrong.

Not only was the attack NOT written in a humorous way, it wasn't even written by Sowell -- a fact I quickly uncovered thanks to our friends at

I will decline the opportunity to reprint the (disgusting) email here. But if you want to check it out, click here.

The gist is that only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could convince Sowell to vote for McCain, and then he lists a variety of examples of how the two have done just that.

The "reasons" he gives are -- surprise, surprise -- the same shopworn GOP talking points that Obama has tackled head on via his web site,, since day one.

I am sure that this will not be the last word on the GOP's sneaky whispering campaign against Barack Obama. But I’m glad it gave me the opportunity to share with you, in case you didn't know already, how to determine if the charges contained within are valid.

There are some good web sites that deal with political urban legends. My favorites are and

Book mark them now. You will need to visit them repeatedly between now and November. Count on it.

About the author: John Brake is the former chairman of the Williamson County Democratic Party and a political columnist for the Williamson Herald. Email him at

Pro Life Or Pro Pander?

After watching CNN's Campbell Brown ask Tony Perkins his opinion of Obama's answer to Rick Warren's abortion question, I was left wondering to myself, "How many more years of my life do I have to listen to Republicans claim a moral authority over the rest of us? How many more elections will be won and lost as a result of 'conservative' politicians pandering to the most extreme fringes of the far right?"
Brown "At what point is a baby entitled to human rights? McCain said 'at conception,' and Obama was extremely vague in his answer."

Perkins "[Obama said] that's above my pay grade. And that should make people question whether or not he's ready for prime time to be President."
Here's what is certain to be true from my perspective. Too many Republicans care about gay marriage and abortion once every four years. They don't care about life. Where were they before Roe vs. Wade when thousands of women were dying as a result of unsafe, illegal abortions? Where were they during Katrina? Rwanda? Better yet, where was John McCain?

Here's what Rove Republicans do care about. They care about their own power, their own money, and of course winning elections to keep a grip on both.

If abortion is so important to Republicans, then why is it still legal? Republicans had a working majority in congress for six years while Bush controlled the White House, and the SCOTUS was tilted in their favor. For the last 20 of 28 years, they've controlled the executive branch, and abortion is still legal. And for the last eight years, they've justified a trillion dollar war which has ended more lives than it has saved. Pro life who?

In 2004, the highest number of reported legal induced abortions occurred in Florida (91,710), NYC (91,673), and Texas (74,801)
Please note that two of the three states listed are solid red and in firm Republican control. Abortions, even there, are still legal.

So, it's no surprise that with only 76 days until November 4th, the latest smear against Obama comes in the form of lies about his position on abortion (gay marriage is next, mark my word). Cash hungry slugs like Jerome Corsi could care less about life. I doubt he even cares about the election all together. After cashing in in 2004, why not try again? Here's Corsi's pie hole spreading yet another lie.

When will evangelicals and other social conservatives finally realize they're being manipulated by a pit of vipers who are only interested in their votes when there's an election?

Republicans have few legs to stand on in 2008. Guys like Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Foley, and Ted Stevens have reduced the GOP to nothing more than Rove campaigners who will stop at nothing to get elected. All at the same time, their President, George W. Bush, sits on an all-time low approval rating. John McCain needs all the help he can get from the far-far right. After all, that strategy has paid off in five of the last seven elections. You can be sure, there will be plenty more of these tactics in the next 76 days.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Then There Were Three?

The New York Times is reporting, what most of us have deducted over the past couple weeks, that Senator Obama's decision on a Vice President is imminent and has "virtually decided," whom the pick will be. They also report that the decision likely to come as early as Wednesday morning and that the list has been narrowed down to three: Senators Evan Bayh and Joe Biden as well as Governor Tim Kaine.

This is not particularly news, other than the fact that names like Kathleen Sebelius and Sam Nunn seems to have taken a backseat to the aforementioned trio. So before all of our cell phones buzz Wednesday morning (or whenever the announcement is sent via text message to all us political junkies), I wanted to briefly talk about these three choices and their potential upsides and drawbacks (especially those not talked about by the media).

Evan Bayh.

The Good: Photogenic, Experienced in multiple offices, well liked by the conservative wing of the party; yet palatable to most of the party, puts Indiana even more in play (the Hoosier State has been a fixation of the Obama campaign), strong and early supporter of Hillary Clinton. Geography: Could put the upper Midwest in the bag for Obama

The Not-so-good: Likely forfeits a Senate seat, has a reputation for being bland, and picking him would look extremely safe and political in nature.

A few questions: Is picking a son of a legendary U.S. Senator the best way to present your message of change? Is he a better candidate on paper than in practice? Is geographical balance still important? If so, how will an all Midwest ticket play?

Bottom-line: Bayh is the "safest" pick for Obama, yet still very attractive. The imagery of a young running mate would make a great photo-op. I still ultimately don't think Obama risks a Senate seat (nor do I think Bayh is Obama's top choice for the job) and the charges of being too safe in his selection.

Joe Biden.

The Good: Well-liked, a great debater and attack dog, strong foreign policy credentials, has a moderate profile, and is somewhat well-known and nationally vetted. Could help with Catholics and could put his birth state of Pennsylvania in the bank.

Not-so-good: His Mouth, Delaware is already safely in the Democratic column, questions about health, his position on Iraq.

A few questions: Can Obama claim to be an agent of change while putting a thirty-six year Senator on the ticket? He's 65 years old and had two brain aneurysms over twenty years ago. Could the Biden-Iraq partition plan be a liability? Does he make Obama seem small by comparison a la Lloyd Bentsen? Would picking him be a subtle signal that Obama is not over-sensitive to racial remarks?

Bottom Line: Biden, while he could contradict Obama's message of change, makes perfect sense as a running mate. During the primaries he was a happy warrior against Rudy Giulani and other Republicans. Yes, his mouth is problematic, but could make things lively and would bring even more energy to the ticket. Could be the compromise candidate for Obama between head (Bayh) and heart (Kaine).

Tim Kaine.

The Good: Fits perfectly with Obama's message, Governor of key swing state (Virginia), Helps with Catholics and religious voters, energetic, and has perfect chemistry with Obama. Would provide a great photo-op.

The Not-so-good: Vulnerable to accusations of inexperience, forfeits Governorship to a Republican for 12 months, not a favorite among women's groups and labor, while popular he is no Mark Warner.

Questions: Is Denver going to be too Virginia centric with Mark Warner keynoting? Kaine's electoral win in Virginia was based more in Richmond/No. Va. rather than Warner's rural strategy and does he help that much in VA in light of that? Was he too accessible the last month? I can't imagine all those leaks and interviews made Team Chicago too happy...

The Bottom Line: He is clearly, politics aside, Obama's preferred governing partner (they share a similar history, Kaine was an early backer of his, and their message is largely the same). But in light of the events in Eastern Europe and some slight poll tightening will Obama pick a more tested running mate like Biden or Bayh?

Biden and Kaine seem more likely right now than Bayh (though myself and Stephen Moody are looking for good recipe books just in case...) or a dark horse. I don't know who he picks, but I definitely feel it is either Biden or Kaine. But I'll be impatiently waiting by my phone in the meantime...

But remember as William Goldman said, "No one knows anything," and I think we all remember this (though in retrospect it might not have been the worst idea in the world):

Friday, August 15, 2008

Electoral Update - Making History In The Last Frontier

The fallout from the Ted Stevens scandal may be far greater than the loss of one senate seat.  A new Hays Research poll in Alaska now shows Democrat Barack Obama leading there by five points.

It's been a very long time since Alaska was considered a swing state. In fact, Alaska has only once, ever, gone Democratic since becoming a state in 1959.  Could Barack Obama become the first Democrat to win Alaska since Lyndon Johnson?

Even before the Stevens brouhaha, McCain was on thin ice.  Most polls throughout the summer showed the Arizona Senator with only a five or six point lead. Comparing those numbers to the 30 point victories for George Bush in 2000 and 2004 gives Alaskan Democrats plenty of reason to believe their state may finally turn blue.  

ALASKA RESULTS  (source:  Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections)
2000  Bush 58.6%  Gore 27.7%  Bush + 30.9%
2004  Bush 61.1%  Kerry 32.5%  Bush + 28.6%

We should also point out that Mark Begich has also made tremendous gains since Stevens, his opponent, was formally charged with seven felony counts of failing to disclose gifts received from an oil contractor.  The last time a Democrat captured a US Senate seat in Alaska was 1974.  Could Democrats be on the verge of making history in The Last Frontier?  More on that in next Thursday's Balance of Power Projection.

Besides Alaska, the race essentially remains unchanged. The slight electoral changes over the last two weeks represent subtle nuances in the methodology we use to assign a state. As our writer LibraryPolitico said just days ago, the race remains static.

A Rasmussen poll yesterday shows McCain leading by a single point in Colorado, well within the margin of error (5%).  This is the second poll in the last three weeks showing McCain with a small lead.  Obama and McCain have split the last four polls, which is why we've moved this state from leaning Obama to tossup.  My guess is that Colorado, along with Virginia and Ohio, will remain very close all the way to election day.