CRIST TO BUSH: DON'T CALL ME, I'LL CALL YOU. As we've been covering over at Midterm Madness, Florida's gubernatorial race against state Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) and Rep. Jim Davis (D) has grown increasingly tight in recent weeks, so much so that President Bush is on his way to the Sunshine State now to lend a hand.
JAPAN! My favorite salmon-colored newspaper, the Financial Times, has a special report on Japan that focuses on ways that new premier Shinzo Abe is different from his more Gere-like predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. Although Koizumi had more charisma and a fondness for playing dress-up, Abe appears to be much brighter when it comes to foreign policy:
FRAUDULENT ROBO-CALLS V. DEMOCRACY: Hilzoyhas more on the Republicans investing $2 million in fraudulent, harassing robocalls intended to suppress Democratic turnout, which Josh Marshall has been doing terrific work on. What deserves emphasis here is that this isn't rogue local campaigns, or over-enthusiastic volunteers -- most of them are apparently part of a national, co-ordinated effort funded by the National Republican Congressional Committee. As Hilzoy says:
THE PARETO FALLACY. For no reason I can really understand, various technocrats on both ends of the aisles have convinced themselves that the relative paucity of support among the electorate for their personal political preferences is attributable to a simple lack of technical expertise among voters. Mattattributes this to what I'll call the Pareto fallacy (named for the concept of Pareto optimality): The idea that because a certain policy could enhance widespread well-being through progressive and equitable distribution of its benefits, it will.
TIME FOR 11TH-HOUR PANIC? The Pew Research Center for People and the Press released a new poll yesterday that showed the Democrats' national lead over Republicans has been cut in half in the campaign's waning days. Two weeks ago, Pew found Democrats with an 11-point generic-ballot lead, 50 percent to 39 percent. Yesterday's poll showed the margin down to just four points, 47 percent to 43 percent.
GOTV BLUSTER. Amidst undoubtedly worrying news for Democrats as the generic ballots tighten, there's a very surprising nugget tucked at the end of this USA Todayarticle on the latest Gallup poll:
One reason: Both parties have been in touch. Among likely voters, 15% had been contacted by someone urging them to vote for a Republican, and 15% had been contacted by someone urging a Democratic vote. What's more, 27% had been contacted by both sides.
As I'm barely recovered from the emotional disaster that was November 2004, this includes some significant hedging. If things turn out much worse, expect to find me on the floor of my apartment in a fetal position with an empty bottle of cheap bourbon.
PHILADELPHIANS AGAINST SANTORUM. Sunday afternoon, I shadowed a few lifelong activists who were canvassing for Philadelphians Against Santorum (PAS). We met on a South Philly street corner, where PAS armed us with an arsenal of fliers highlighting the fundamental differences between Casey and Santorum. PAS is geared toward getting a minimum of 60 percent of Philadelphians to vote against the Republican incumbent. Their logo is an angry cartoon of William Penn with �Philadelphians Against Santorum� scrawled across his chest along with a Liberty Bell. PAS has been canvassing various Philadelphia neighborhoods for the last two months straight, as Bob Casey�s lead has grown to double digits.
NATION�S DEMOCRATIC WAVE ERODING MONTANA BEACHHEAD? The Montana Senate race has tightened up considerably. Democratic candidate Jon Tester enjoyed the early momentum out of the primary election and into October, but incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns has surged to make this race a statistical dead-heat, according to recent polls. (A November 4th Mason/Dixon poll has both candidates at 47 percent; a November 5th poll shows Tester with 50 percent and Burns at 48 percent.) Many pundits scramble to explain why Burns has closed the gap on Tester.
TRYING TO DISAGREE. I'm also not sure that Matt and I disagree all that much about counter-insurgency, but I'm going to press foward as if we do. Matt's argument, I think, is that a focus on operational questions such as counter-insurgency doctrine ignores the basic political question of what could have been achieved in Iraq or Vietnam. Matt is arguing that, because even a competent counter-insurgency doctrine would have failed in those situations, focusing on doctrine rather than on the critical political question of the intervention itself is misplaced.