Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Five reasons the race isn't over

I see that Jeff has taken a break from his favourite subject to discuss the forthcoming US Presidential election - which is now only one week away. According to Jeff, it is all over. Heck, even John Swinney has apparently said he'd vote for Obama - according to Yousuf anyway.

I've been here before with this discussion, and there's a chance I'm well wrong, but as I'm in it now, I might as well be
hanged for a sheep as a lamb. Or something equally Dickens-esq.

There are several reasons why I remain unconvinced that this thing is over.


1) Jeff mentions the Bradley Effect. While I'd hope that racial prejudice will not play a large part in this race, I've already posted a video that suggests that some, sadly, still see it as a factor which will influence their vote.

2) Obama's
double-digit national lead is, I think, slightly overstated. I'd imagine, not necessarily the Bradley Effect, but a similar phenomenon. People who will vote for the Republicans are less likely to be vocal about it - and less likely to tell pollsters that they'll vote for McCain. Call it embarrassment if you want - and I probably would - but I'd say that Obama voters are more likely to speak to pollsters... which might be overstating his mark by as much as 5 points.

3) Congress is heading for large Democrat majorities in both the Senate and the House. Some outlets are
even suggesting as many as 60 Democratic Senators after the election. If this were to occur alongside a Democratic Presidency, it would give President Obama huge, unchecked power. I'm not suggesting that he'd run amok - but I think the US Constitution was designed with a system of checks and balances, and a legislative branch of one party alongside an executive branch of another adds further checks to the process.

4) Sadly, stories like
this. When my Gran asked me who I thought would win, I said McCain. She said "I hope so too. I don't have anything against that nice young Obama, but if he gets elected, someone will try to shoot him." I wish we didn't live in a world where that happened. I wonder of there are any Americans of similar mindset - that it'd be dangerous for Obama to get elected. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying "people won't vote for Obama for his own good." I'm saying... I don't know. That maybe people will think that having Obama as President is risking his life and out of respect for his life they should vote for the other guy? Nah, I don't buy it either... But I wanted to point out the risks that Obama is taking for his vision - and that he should perhaps be shown even more respect because of that.

5) Finally, the Electoral College. Despite polls to the contrary (see above) I still think states like Florida, Virginia and even Pennsylvania might yet turn for McCain.


What do you think? Am I clutching at straws in the hope I can make £200 out of it? Or are the five reasons I've given not actually scraping the barrel?

You all know I'm working on guesswork and hunches being as far away from the action Stateside as I possibly could be. But I've nailed my colours to the mast... and if (when) the ship sinks, I'll be going down with it! If nothing else, I'll have given Jeff something to think about (and perhaps respond to) for five minutes.

8 comments:

Sam 28 October 2008 at 11:39  

You're probably not clutching at straws just yet, although if you actually bet ¢200 on this thing maybe you should be.

But I don't think you're points, valid as they are, will make up the difference, even if we're not sure what that difference is. 7 days to go, double-digit lead, its not over yet, but something big needs to happen and the McCain campaign hasn't shown itself capable of manufacturing anything that big so far. The Bradley Effect and likely-voter polling errors don't seem big enough to me.

Holyrood Patter 28 October 2008 at 13:33  

No apparently about it, Swinney did say he would vote for Obama, and his appraisal of the Bush regime was quite impassioned.

I'm still holding out for a landslide, dont think thatll be the case, but think there is yet more money to be raised, and spent by Obama. Also, given the seperate fundraising by the party, rather than McCain himself, some funds could be diverted to losing representatives

Malc 28 October 2008 at 14:51  

Sam - I didn't bet £200 on it. I'm not crazy. Fiver on McCain to win 290-309 EC votes at 40/1... would make me a tidy profit. Though I'm thinking the Obama 14/1 270-289 EC votes might be a decent "safe" bet...

I think my points are valid too - otherwise I wouldn't have made them. But are they enough to swing a double-digit lead? Doubtful. But my point is this - I think that double-digit lead is non-existent... I think its is exaggerated somewhat. I think Obama's lead might be something like 5 points. Of course, I have no evidence. Other than, you know, being an academic and taking an unhealthy interest in elections...

You are right though - swing to McCain ain't gonna happen unless he makes it happen.

Malc 28 October 2008 at 14:56  

HP - the "apparently" was two things. One, because I wasn't there and I was using another source. Two, a figure of speech.

I doubt I'd argue too much with what the great man (Swinney) would say about the Bush administration... but the mistake Obama's people keep making is that McCain ISN'T Bush. I'd suggest people know the difference.

Your point on the McCain funding/ spending is reasonable. Not convinced the HUGE gap in funding is what will make the difference.

If I'm wrong, I expect there will be a lot of people smug around here... if I'm right, well, I'll be a minority of one, eh?

Sam 28 October 2008 at 15:22  

phew, I thought you might be looking for alternative sources of PhD funding!

Analysis of polls is always capable of making anyone look stupid. The Labour Party & professional pollsters involved in predicting the "Kinnock landslide" in 1992 would probably agree. So you could well be right, and agreeing with the double-digit led could look like taking the safe option by me. Nevertheless, I do think there is something in it.

The last time McCain was in the lead was during and just after the Republican convention. Since then the economy has overtaken everything in terms of voter's concerns, and McCain (as a member of the incumbent party & with some erratic speeches on the subject) has suffered as a direct result. His ratings are going down as the major issue gets worse.

Ok I'm not an academic, though I do have an unhealthy interest in elections. But it seems to me there are more compelling reasons to believe the numbers than not.

Caron 28 October 2008 at 16:55  

I am still not confident enough to say that Obama is definitely going to win - until he's up there making his victory speech, I won't believe it.

However I think this is the best feeling since '92 and I am more hopeful that he will do it.

That's not to say your points don't have anything in them:

Bradley Effect - I suspect, sadly, there will be some of this but not enough to wipe out Obama's lead. I agree that this is probably overstated. I think McCain will win Florida, but Obama will take Pennsylvania narrowly - he has a 9 point lead today on Electoral Vote. Virginia I think will go to Obama - McCain is 10 points down on where Bush was 4 years ago. Ohio is anyone's guess. Clinton won it with 47% in '96 and Obama is way ahead of that now - but it might significantly tighten in the next week.

I'm not so sure that your 3rd point about there being a Democratic Congress and a Republican President will come true in some sort of weird self checking mechanism by the voters. Also, Party discipline isn't that great in the US and each Party is itself a bit of a coalition, much more so than here.

Yes, Obama is possibly taking a risk but it's his to take, I don't imagine for a minute it hasn't crossed his mind, and his dignified and calm statement when asked about it today, commenting that the Secret Service is the best in the World, will hopefully reassure people.

If this isn't too tasteless, think of what Bush has done, and the people he's upset over the term of his presidency, and he's been kept safe. I don't think that part of your argument is significant enough to worry voters away from voting for him.

Malc 28 October 2008 at 22:16  

Sam,

I'd still think of you as an academic even though you are no longer at university. And you may be right about believing the numbers.

But I've always been one to run against the grain somewhat (predicting an SNP win in Glasgow East 2 weeks before it when everyone else was suggesting a Labour win; calling Glenrothes for Labour last week before all the bookies slashed the odds on them)... Guess I like to think I know better. Sometimes I'm right and sometimes its just wishful thinking...

Malc 28 October 2008 at 22:24  

Caron,

That's a sensible approach. Until either are making a speech accepting their victory/ loss, it ain't over!

Agree on the parties being more large-ish coalitions, but I think the internal discipline can be pretty tight at times. I'm not sure if the domination of the Democrats in Congress will have a huge impact on voting next week. I guess what it would do would emphasize a potential Obama mandate - and give him free-reign. Which could be good and bad, depending how you see the US constitution.

And the last point is possibly right. I only wanted to include it because I thought my Gran's concern for Obama was nice - and I wondered if anyone else had considered it. You are right - a) it is Obama's risk to take and b) the Secret Service is tremendously good at its job. So he'd be as protected as any previous President - and perhaps, as you suggest, a less polarizing figure than Bush. But he'd still be a target for those of a white supremacist persuasion.

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