Friday, October 03, 2008

Two Debate Thoughts and some predictions

I know that the "pundits" think that America is the land of stupid, but I think there are 2 things that they should have discussed and pointedly ignored last night. For me, these were the 2 most relevant things I saw:

1. Palin barely answered any questions. Instead, she had little paragraphs about energy, taxes, and main street, etc which she tried to apply to questions that were not related in any way. I'd have to look up the specifics, but from memory, her answer to the Pakistan issue was utterly nonsensical and unrelated. On the substance, I thought she was a total failure, especially on foreign policy issues. Of course, you didn't see anyone say that on CNN last night because apparently the only thing they care about is how she looked, her body language, and her folksiness. But I think that America is actually paying attention to the issues and I think her evasions and lack of specifics hurts her more than her "regular gal" persona helps. If you watched the "support meter" at the bottom of the screen during the debate, every time either candidate got high tech on an issue, the meter's spiked up. And when the candidates were overly generic or evaded specifics, the meter plummeted. And it was plummeting a lot for Sarah Palin last night.

2. Palin talked a lot about principles and values - about helping the middle class - without speaking in specifics. The obvious reason for that is that the vast majority of the McCain/Palin platform directly contradicts the values that she was espousing. I'm utterly shocked that none of the pundits pointed this out. I know that the new McCain line is that he's a reformer and he'll fight for the little guy. Palin repeated it over and over again. But at some point you have to call bullshit and the media is consistenly failing in its job. The whole reason why the issue of lobbyists employed by his campaign matters, the reason why his vote for the 99 banking deregulation bill that was sponsored by his chief economic advisor Lindsay Graham and which is largely responsible for this crisis matters, the reason why his support of the bankruptcy bill which has created huge economic problems for millions of middle-classers matters, among many other policy positions - the reason why they matter is that they are proof positive that McCain has *consistently* voted against the little guy. So for the 12 person CNN panel to just ignore that was a disgrace.

Here's my theory: when Palin talked about the values she supported, the philosophy of supporting the middle class, I began to wonder just how much she supports McCain's platform. I don't think this woman is an idiot by any means (although she doesn't know jack shit about foreign policy). In fact, I think that she has very different ideas about how to govern than McCain does and that inherent tension makes her job almost impossible. When an interviewer or a moderater asks her about her views on any given issue, she is hamstrung by an inability to express her own views because they conflict with so much of what McCain stands for. I seriously wonder how different that debate would have been if it had been Biden-Palin straight up for the presidency.

None of this suggests that I agree with Palin. In fact, I know most of the philosophy stuff coming out of her mouth is utter bullshit. Or, to put it more palitably, it's easier to support certain things when you are the governer of an oil rich state and don't have to worry about the problems of a nation. And I think that's the crux of the public's disastisfaction with the Palin selection. It's not that she's an idiot. It's that she's woefully underprepared to be president, woefully underprepared to run a nation and given McCain's long history with cancer, his increasingly erratic behavior, and his lack of transparency about his medical history, her ability to lead the nation has become a salient issue.

Anyway, I thought I'd end this post with a few fearless predictions.

1. I think Obama is gonna win this thing with more than 300 electoral votes. In other words, I think we're about to see a landslide. Not only have the polls radically trended toward him over the last 10 days, I don't think that McCain can overturn the fundamental dynamics of a failing economy that he helped cause (the GOP as a whole is taking a huge hit on this one).

2. I think Obama wins Nevada, New Mex, Colorado, and Virginia in addition to all of the Kerry states. That would put him at 291, I believe (although I think he wins Omaha also which is good for 1, so call it 292).

3. I think there's about a 50% chance he's going to win North Carolina as well, which would be utterly shocking. Democrats just don't win the Carolinas. But things are trending toward him and against the GOP in NC (look at Dole, she's losing as of today) and that bodes well for Obama.

4. I have a bad feeling about Ohio. Don't know why really. Just feel like somehow McCain is gonna pull it out there.

5. I also think McCain will pull it out in Indiana although that's going to be hotly contested. To give a bit of a backstory, the McCain campaign has repeatedly made arrogant statements about winning Indiana, they don't have much of a ground game, and they don't appear to be paying much attention to it. On the other hand, Obama has been extremely agressive and is closing the gap. Indiana is definitely "in play" although I don't know if the McCain campaign has realized it. I put Obama's chances at 40% as of today but it's one of the races that I think has great potential for movement.

6. Missouri is another. Obama can win it. It's getting tighter. We'll have to watch and see what happens there in the next 2 weeks.

7. I think Obama is going to win Florida. A lot of retirees down there and it's certain that a great number of them have watched their 401k's go up in smoke over the last weeks. The economic dynamics really help Obama down there and I don't see how McCain recovers. He just doesn't have a grasp of economics in general and his team has yet to produce an economic plan to solve this crisis. Obama's got a 4-point plan and whether it works or not, I think people want to see that the candidates have at least an idea of what to do. And up to now, it's pretty evident that McCain is totally out of it on the biggest issue in this election.

In conclusion, my range for Obama is a low of 292 to a high of 344. That's of today. A lot can change in the next 4 weeks but barring anything truly shocking (Bill Clinton style), I can't see Obama losing this thing.

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