The Watering Hole: Wednesday, November 3, 2010: There’s got to be a morning after…

Well, the election is over and most races have a declared winner and a concession from the loser(s). Slighty more than half the votes will be pleased. And those who sat this one out, well, they’ll just have to take whatever they get, or give up whatever will now be taken away.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

The undecided voter

It’s the weekend before the election and, apparently, there are still some Americans who can’t decide who they want to vote for. Hard to believe, given the months and months of campaigning through the primaries and then toward the general election; all the press attention and discussion; all the commercials and mailers and posters . . . there are still some Americans who at least claim to be “undecided.”

On NPR’s “All Things Considered” last night, there was an interesting segment called “Who Are the Undecided Voters?” in which a pollster attempted to answer the question of who those 6.4% of voters might be.

According to Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of undecided voters are female. Twenty-seven percent are age 65 and older; many tend to be less well-educated and more religious than voters who have already picked their candidate.

Hmm. So, have these people been in solitary confinement for the last year, or perhaps living underground in an experimental biosphere?

When voters are asked by pollsters why they remain undecided, their answers typically put them into three categories, Kohut says: the conflicted voters who feel torn between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama; the disengaged voters who have not been paying attention to the campaign; and the nonvoters.

“There’s some real reason for these people to not being able to make up their mind,” Kohut says, “in addition to the fact there’s a component of them who are disengaged, who probably won’t vote.”

In fact, in the actual broadcast, Kohut said that the nonvoters accounted for about 50% of the “undecided.” In other words, there are may really be 3.2% of actual voters who are undecided. NPR interviewed an undecided voter from Tennessee, who only partly fit the profile: she was a single mom in her 30s, definitely religious, and had issues with both candidates. Her issues weren’t stupid, and were primarily concerns about the economy and the perceived failure of either candidate to define exactly what he intended to do about it. According to her, and to Kohut, there’s a 50% chance she’ll vote for McCain. In Tennessee. Maybe NPR couldn’t find an undecided voter in a swing state.

However that particular voter ends up making her choice (toss a coin, lady!), it doesn’t appear that the “undecided” voters will have much impact on the election — or any election, if as Kohut said, “You’re never going to get everyone giving you an answer, and the numbers that we’re seeing in ’08 are the same as ’04 and ’00.”

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From a Distance: The Jitters, will Obama lose after all?

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It has been noted recently that, for a foreigner, I was pretty much fired up and passionate about the American Presidential elections. I asked myself, why do I care that much? And the answer on that is fairly easy. When you are restricted from really participating, like voting or actually donating to , or working for a campaign, you have to rely on others to do what you consider would be the right thing. I don’t like that, like I do not like riding shotgun in a car or sitting in an airplane at the mercy of the driver’s or pilot’s competence. And I am not alone. Out there in European newspapers, there are people who say it so much better than I can.

Like George Monbiot in yesterday’s Guardian. He gives voice to one of the specifics in American politics that, like him, I cannot get my head around:

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama was a Muslim and a terrorist? (read more)

Will it be that way next Tuesday? Will the anti-intellectuals prevail once again? Sorry, but to be blunt: A borderline senile and a borderline imbecile joining forces to run the most powerful nation there is, has me in panic mode.

Not only me. There is Mark Steel over at The Independent who has the jitters as well:

McCain could announce he’d bomb Argentina for being too near the start of the alphabet, flash at Oprah Winfrey shouting “Hey Joe the plumber, there’s ONE waterworks that doesn’t need fixing” during the national anthem, reveal he was chairman of a company that’s been selling teddy bears that turn out to be stuffed with petrol-soaked semtex, and admit he didn’t go to Vietnam at all but spent the whole war in the bath. And the following day we’d hear that a string of gaffes had caused Obama’s lead to climb to SIX per cent. (read more)

He has a point hasn’t he? I’m visiting Real Clear Politics like fifty times a day. I’m preferring that Republican leaning site just because I do not want to get my hopes up too high.

On the other hand Daniel Finkelstein – The Times – has everything wrapped up and tells Republicans the stark truth about their impending unimportance. He compares November 5, 2008 with the day after Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997:

There was a feeling of euphoria in Britain that morning, a feeling of freshness and change. Even people who hadn’t voted for Blair were caught up in it. Many of them wished that they had, and his poll rating soared. Much of the good feeling about new Labour was generated in the months after their landslide, oddly, rather than in the months before it.(read more)

This makes me feel slightly better. After all, the conservatives’ predictions have been more right all those years than mine. My wishes for a President Gore and then a President Kerry haven’t been granted. To be honest, it has never been good news for a candidate, if I supported the guy. Mine tended to lose.

On to the Economist, they are really good at analysis, every time. They say McCain’s campaign was looking doomed.

JOHN MCCAIN has survived against long odds before. But, despite a stubborn televised interview on Sunday October 26th, in which he touted a poll showing him just a few points behind Barack Obama in the race for the White House, soon he may have to tape up his windows to keep out bad news. Pollster.com, a website that aggregates poll results, suggests that the Republican is now behind Mr Obama by an average of just over seven percentage points. Other pollsters give Mr Obama a slightly smaller lead. Intrade, a betting website, indicates that those risking money on the election result believe that the Democrat has nearly a 90% chance of victory next week. (read more)

But, but have they ever heard of rigged elections? No, this is not comforting at all. And then, there are the Chinese zodiac signs.

Maybe most impressing is Simon Heffer in The Telegraph. He grudgingly and moodily writes about the time when Obama will be President. He doesn’t like it, but then – it will most probably happen.

One can find two kinds of voters in this great city in the week before the presidential election; those Democrats who can see no possibility of defeat for Barack Obama next Tuesday, and those who wake with a jolt at 4am imagining he has lost, and feeling in their bowels the fear that something might happen in the next few days to stop the saviour of the United States from fulfilling his mission. I have yet to find a Republican, despite this being the city that returned Rudy Giuliani twice as mayor. But then it is hard to find anyone in the city that gave Hillary Clinton a big victory in February in the New York state primary who will now not admit to being a dyed-in-the-wool Obamamaniac. The fat lady has yet to sing, but, as far as New Yorkers are concerned, the show is over already. (read more)

I am still as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers, but I am confident I am not alone in this. There is a Global Electoral College in the Economist and as far as I can see, my anxiety is shared by many.

McCain Disputes Polls With Obama’s Lead – Then Cites Poll To Prove Point

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John McCain’s theory is that the polls have to be wrong, if they are not favoring him. I thought this was particularly funny that he would disagree with a poll and use another poll to prove his point.

John McCain disputed the polls that show him trailing Barack Obama by double digits, saying that he would rather rely on his “senses” and is encouraged by the enthusiasm at his events.

The Republican presidential candidate made an argument for the viability of his campaign during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning. McCain predicted a come-from-behind and win on Election Day, just nine days away.

“Those polls have consistently shown me much further behind than we actually are,” said McCain during the interview here with veteran journalist Tom Brokaw.

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From a Distance: “The Economist’s” poll of economists

The Economist has compared the economic plans of both candidates and concludes:

A candidate’s economic expertise may matter rather less if he surrounds himself with clever advisers. Unfortunately for Mr McCain, 81% of all respondents reckon Mr Obama is more likely to do that; among unaffiliated respondents, 71% say so. That is despite praise across party lines for the excellent Doug Holtz-Eakin, Mr McCain’s most prominent economic adviser and a former head of the Congressional Budget Office. “Although I have tended to vote Republican,” one reply says, “the Democrats have a deep pool of talented, moderate economists.”

All in all Barack Obama has a big advantage in the views of economists. You can find more on the topic in “The Economist” here, here and here.

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From a distance – Calling the race for Obama, or maybe not just yet ?

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The underlying conviction of the British newspapers about the Presidential Election seems to be, Obama will win the race. They just don’t dare to say it out loud. In a way it is understandable, there have been so many surprises in this overlong campaign, so why not another momentum change in the last four weeks? Personally, I do not think there will be another upset, if only because the McCain surprises have lost almost all of their charm. His first one, the nomination of a woman as running mate could have been a real game-changer, had he made a wiser choice. By all means the perfomance of Sarah Palin is painfully inadequate. Whatever the pundits say, she was an abject failure in the debate. She so obviously skirted the questions to spew forth her talking points it was an embarrassment to watch. I am not an American, but I am a woman and really, to me this is insulting. John McCain’s second attempt at mavericking the race by theatrically suspending his campaign, racing to Washington to “fix it”, was another failure. So what on earth can he think up now that will change a race that has Obama leading 264 to 163 in electoral votes (111 votes toss up with Obama leading in six of the eight remaining toss-up states). Going dirty is the only remaining option, William Kristol has already done the “journalistic” groundwork for that and the McCain campaign has already gone there, but my guess is that people have moved on and mostly made up their minds. Barack Obama will win this race.

But then, who am I? Let’s have a look what the big boys and the big girls in journalism have to say:

Starting with The Times there is Daniel Finkelstein, who essentially says the race is over. Holly Watt is traveling the South and is detecting early warning signs in Georgia:

The Peach State has already begun early voting, and it will not have lowered Republican blood pressure one little bit. 30% of Georgia’s voters are African-American, but that group has cast 40% of the votes so far.

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