Archive

  • AGE BEFORE BEAUTY....

    AGE BEFORE BEAUTY. Note to Brother Sam : the last-minute political disappointment only gets worse as you get older. I think I actually vote for a winner about once every 10 years. Age does offer this advantage, though: experience teaches one to refrain from prognostication. I'm with Sam on his larger point, though; it ain't gonna be no cakewalk for the Dems. --Adele M. Stan
  • THE RETURN TO...

    THE RETURN TO NORMALCY. Here's a brief attempt at a grand unified theory of Tuesday's election: Think of the Republican Party as caught in the middle of an attempt to retreat back to a state of normal or equilibrium politics, after creating and exploiting a singularity, an unsustainable period of polarization around huge ideological questions and ultra-high-risk political tactics. If you need a baseball metaphor, think of a baserunner who stole second, thought he could steal third, and is now scrambling to get back ahead of the throw. If you need a financial metaphor, it's a hedge fund frantically trying to unwind its positions before they become worthless -- in effect, the last days of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998. And the Democratic mission is to make sure they cannot get safely back to normalcy. What do I mean by normal or equilibrium politics? I'm not using some arcane jargon of political theory, but just the mundane truisms of punditry and political science: Local...
  • GALLUP SHOWS DEMS FALLING JUST SHORT OF +6.

    GALLUP SHOWS DEMS FALLING JUST SHORT OF +6. A series of new polls released this morning by USA Today /Gallup show Democrats ahead in several key Senate contests, but not quite enough to give them the majority. Missouri: Claire McCaskill (D) leads Sen. Jim Talent (R), 49 percent to 45 percent Montana: Jon Tester (D) leads Sen. Conrad Burns (R), 50 percent to 41 percent. New Jersey: Sen. Bob Menendez (D) leads Tom Kean Jr. (R), 50 percent to 40 percent. Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse (D) leads Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R), 48 percent to 45 percent. Tennessee: Bob Corker (R) leads Harold Ford (D), 49 percent to 46 percent. Virginia: Sen. George Allen (R) leads Jim Webb (D), 49 percent to 46 percent. In other words, a whole bunch of races that are too close to call, and which will ultimately dictate the majority party in the Senate next year. As Salon's Joan Walsh asked in a slightly different context, "You didn't want Tuesday to be a landslide, did you? I mean, how boring." -- Steve Benen
  • THE DOWNSIDE TO...

    THE DOWNSIDE TO SURPRISES. K-Lo begs , "[e]ven if you're not a 'raging Santorum enthusiast,' [ew -- Ezra ] get him reelected for the dramatic, way interesting news story it will be. Do it to see the shocked expressions on anchors' faces." Not to pop the bubble, but if Santorum comes from a multimonth, 10%+ deficit to win the seat, I'd be much more concerned about an instant and powerful storyline suggesting widespread fraud and theft. Indeed, I worry about that even in the case of a legitimate GOP surge. One of the real and undermentioned shames of the past six or so years is a serious deterioration of trust in the fairness of U.S. elections. We can argue back and forth over whether those feelings are warranted , but I've seen them from both the left and the right (many of my conservative commentators are certain Democrats constantly swipe elections) and there's been just about no effort to assuage these fears. Why we've not had largescale, bipartisan voting reform baffles me, but...
  • PREDICTIONS.

    PREDICTIONS. I'll do Rob one better on the hedging front. All I know in my stolen youth is last-minute political disappointment and pain, as Ezra and the other rugrats around here will no doubt also attest. Steve and Ryan Grim 's cautionary notes about the new GOP surge talk are semi-convincing, but I think some Scheiber ian jitters are still warranted. People always note the obvious but sometimes forget to absorb it -- the GOP has much more money than the Democrats. Republicans have the ability to saturate media markets with ads in the last few days of the elections. They are doing so. It's relevant. (And this is the case even leaving aside the suppression and robo-calling and shenanigans that the NRCC and other national Republican entities are currently engaging in with brazen shamelessness and gusto.) And, as Matt pointed out to me yesterday, it's also worth pausing for a moment to consider that the Senate polling is generally more detailed and reliable than various district level...
  • CRIST TO BUSH: DON'T CALL ME, I'LL CALL YOU.

    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. Crist, however, won't be there . In another sign of how Bush's market value has fallen, Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist said yesterday that he would skip the president's rally in Pensacola this morning. The White House put the Florida stop on Bush's election-eve schedule specifically to promote Crist, only to be embarrassed by his last-minute defection. That will make the most prominent Florida politician appearing at the event Senate candidate Rep. Katherine Harris, who appears headed for a crushing defeat and whom the Bush family has tried to avoid this fall. Crist cited the need to campaign elsewhere, but it's worth remembering that he had...
  • JAPAN!

    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: Mr Abe's first move was to pull a surprise "Nixon goes to China" visit to Beijing to meet President Hu Jintao. Mr Hu had said he would not meet Mr Koizumi until he promised not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial to Japan's war dead, that includes 14 Class A war criminals from the second world war. Mr Koizumi visited the shrine anyway and passed on the summit with Mr Hu. Recognising the futility of his own approach and worried about the danger of anti-Japanese protests turning against the Chinese government, Mr Hu wisely chose not to demand the same condition of Mr. Abe. Mr. Abe, in turn, wisely chose not to promise that he would...
  • FRAUDULENT ROBO-CALLS V....

    FRAUDULENT ROBO-CALLS V. DEMOCRACY : Hilzoy has 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 people who do this are antidemocratic. They don't believe in making their case and letting the voters decide. They don't care about democracy, or citizens' right to choose the candidate who best reflects their views, or fair play or honesty or decency or moral values. They care about power, and they will undermine our democracy before they let the voters pry the reins of power out of their claws. Indeed. And if this doesn't work, there's always racism to fall back on . --Scott Lemieux
  • THE PARETO FALLACY....

    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. Matt attributes 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. Too often, it won't . Ours is a world of rational, self-interested actors where certain individuals and groups have far more power than others, and that has precisely the unequal distributionary outcomes you'd expect. The fact that we can construct models where power is flattened and Pareto works isn't particularly important. This has been a nifty trick of the free trade movement: They've transformed debates over specific legislation (NAFTA...
  • TIME FOR 11TH-HOUR PANIC?

    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. Understandably, this is causing some, shall we say, consternation among some political observers who hope to see Democrats excel tomorrow. With this in mind, it's probably worth noting that there is at least as much evidence that the national trend is working against the GOP as there is of the opposite. Consider the five national polls conducted and released over the last six days: * CNN (11/3 - 11-5) -- Democrats lead Republicans by 20 points, 58 percent to 38 percent. * Newsweek (11/2 - 11-3) -- Democrats had a 16-point lead, 54 percent to 38 percent. * Time (11/1 - 11-3) -- Democrats were...

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