24 July, 2008

McCain's VP Options

There's been a lot of buzz recently that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will make his VP announcement in the coming days (perhaps as early as today). So, I wanted to take a look at some of the names being thrown around and give my opinion on them. Unfortunately, my news is nearly universally bad.

Leading Contenders

Mitt Romney, former governor of MA. Let me be blunt. Romney would be a horrible choice. While "Christian Conservatives" like him because he wears his faith on his sleeve, when you look up his past, there's little doubt that he's much more than a RINO. Which is unsurprising, frankly. The only way a Republican wins the governorship in MA is if he's a RINO. Now, I'm not one to loathe RINO's as some do. I'm glad they've joined the Republican party and are part of the conservative ideal in at least some areas. And I'm realistic enough to look at the political map and know that if I want someone with an (R) by his name and that person comes from MA, or PA, or CA, or NYC, then they're probably going to be more centrist than I would typically prefer. Anyway, my original point here is that McCain's biggest weakness is support of the base. Adding another RINO/centrist to the ticket doesn't help him at all.

Tom Ridge, current Director Homeland Security, former Senator from PA. See Mitt Romney, above.

Charlie Crist, Governor FL. Crist is more of a true conservative, so would be a good choice based on that, but many want him on the ticket to "secure FL". Once again, I'll be blunt. If McCain needs Crist to "secure FL", then the election is already lost. FL can't be a battleground state for McCain to win. With all the retirees and Jews there, he should be looking at a +5 margin here, minimum. So, if that's your reason for putting Crist on the ticket, look elsewhere. Also, I don't like someone from FL on the ticket because I think it reminds centrists and right leaning Democrats of 2000. I know Crist wasn't involved in that, but I don't think McCain wants to associate himself with the 2000 election in any way shape or form.

Bobby Jindal, Governor LA. He's a young conservative, and dynamic. People like Jindal are definitely the future of the Republican party, if it has a future. However, once again, he has the potential to remind voters of something McCain would rather not mention: Katrina. The other problem with Jindal is risk. He's the governor of the state more noted for corruption in politics than any other. This has been true for close to a century or so. Now, Jindal may be (and probably is) completely clean. However, there's so much political corruption in the state, the likelihood that he can be tied (if only by innuendo and speculation) to someone known to be corrupt is high. The only area that I can think of that's as bad as LA is Chicago, IL. I'd never nominate someone for national office from LA, just as I would not for Chicago.

Joe Lieberman, Independent Democrat Senator from CT. See Mitt Romney. He can't even claim to be a RINO. He's a true blue Democrat that only agrees with Republicans on one issue: Iraq. Now, there is a place for Lieberman on the campaign trail and in the administration, if McCain is bold enough to do it. I've felt for some time now that McCain should name Joe Lieberman as his Secretary of State, and do it before the convention. Lieberman as SoS doesn't hurt McCain with the base like he would as VP, and he still manages to hit Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) where it hurts. Obama may be the first Democratic Presidential candidate to lose the Jewish vote in the last 50 years. Adding Lieberman on as SoS would make that climb even steeper for Obama. It's a win position for Lieberman too, because no matter what, he's serving his last term in the U.S. Senate. Come 2012, the Democrats will work harder than ever to defeat him, and they won't have to defeat him twice like they did in 2006. Also, the Republicans will likely nominate someone who's capable of obtaining more than a couple hundred votes, unlike 2006.

Tim Pawlenty, Governor MN. Pawlenty has his ups and downs. He also comes from a very blue state, and that's obvious in his politics, as for the most part they're fairly centrist. He gets high marks from Republicans on taxes and illegal immigration though. He would appeal to "Christian Conservatives". He won't be able to get MN for McCain, but he might be able to at least bring the state into play and require Obama to spend some time there. He's young an energetic and would add charisma to the ticket, but I'm not sure if he's the man to energize the base. The best thing you can say about Pawlenty is that he appears to have fewer negatives than most of his competition, but he also has few positives.

Personally, I still like Condolezza Rice, but McCain doesn't and she doesn't appear to be interested in the job. Yes, she brings more criticism of McCain being McSame and Bush III, but there's no doubt that she's as smart as a whip, and that she has loads of foreign policy experience. And, it definitely wouldn't hurt to have a black and a woman on the ticket. However, McCain's weak domestically and she doesn't help there. I still think this ticket would be close to unbeatable, but I appear to be in the minority.

I'll be doing a similar, but shorter post on Barack Obama in the coming days, and I know i still need to finish my series on civil liberties. I haven't forgotten it, but other things have had more urgency.

23 July, 2008

Battleground States 2008

Here's my take on the battleground states for Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ). "Bellwether" states in bold.

  • Michigan (17): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama currently leads by 5 pts.
  • Indiana (11): Republican last 4 elections, Obama by 1 pt.
  • Ohio (20): Picked winner in last 4 elections, McCain by 6.
  • Missouri (11): Picked winner in last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Pennsylvania (21): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama by 4 (this state likely goes Obama–I only include it because of his blue collar worker issues and his bitter/cling faux pas–If Obama somehow loses this state, he loses the election, possibly by a big margin)
  • Iowa (7):Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 10. (this state likely goes Obama–I only include it because GWB did take this in 2004 and would be a loss for McCain in 2008 that would need to be compensated by a pickup elsewhere)
  • Virginia (13): Republican last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Florida (27): Picked Winner in last 3 elections, McCain by 2. (this state likely goes McCain–I only include it because of it’s recent history as a battleground state–If McCain somehow loses this state, he loses the election, probably by a big margin)
  • Colorado (9): Republican last 3 elections, Obama by 7.
  • New Mexico (5): Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 5.
  • Montana (3): Republican last 3 elections, Obama by 5.
  • North Dakota(3): Republican last 4 elections, currently tied.
  • Nevada(5): Picked winner last 4 elections, Obama by 2.

Montana, North Dakota, Colorado and New Mexico don’t carry much weight but are symbolic to McCain’s problems. These states should be colored in red. The fact that they aren’t shows how weak Republicans are in general.

There are scenarios where Connecticut and New Hampshire get thrown into the battleground mix, but that doesn’t seem likely, and would be bad news for Obama.

So, 147 EV’s out of the 270 needed to win are up for grab right there. Over half.

Bellwether states:

McCain: OH, FL (47)
Obama: IA, NM, NV (17)
Tied: MO (11)

EV Totals: McCain 47, Obama 78, Tied: 27
If we look at the rest of the map and use 2000 and 2004 as the base, we get:
McCain 172, Obama 214.

(if my math is off somewhere, I apologize–doing most of this in my head)

McCain is giving Obama a 42 EV head start in the base and is currently losing the battlegrounds. Not good. The only good news is that he's doing well in the "bellwether" states, at least in EV count.

However, I've looked at the details in the polls for Indiana, and I consider an Obama victory here unlikely. McCain's chances here appear to ride with Governor Mitch Daniels' (R) chances of being re-elected.  He faces Jill Long Thompson (D), and the polls are pretty much tied. However, Mitch leads in the "depths" of the polls, on questions such as "who would you vote for no matter who they were running against", and "who would you never vote for no matter who they were running against". He also has a huge money edge.

So, Obama just needs to hang on and he wins.  That's simple.  What does McCain need to do to win?

To start, McCain needs to win all three the states that are currently tied, MO, VA, and ND, and flip IN, MT, and CO. That gets the two candidates to 269 each. I don't think a tie is likely though. So, McCain probably has to look next at NV and NM.  Those should be good states for him being from AZ. As an aside, I'm constantly amazed at how blue or at least purple NV is in national elections. In state elections, it's very very red.

As another aside, the mere fact that IN is a battleground also shows McCain’s troubles. President George W. Bush (R-USA) got 60% of the vote here in 2004.

In the end, I think that the 4 states we’ll be talking about right up until election day are IN, VA, OH, and MO. If either candidate can pick up some momentum in these 4 states and take any of them off the battleground list, it is bad news for the other camp. Unfortunately for McCain, it currently looks like he has to go 4 for 4 in them, and still pick up another state.

I don't think McCain can win in PA unless the election becomes a landslide, but it's currently competitive and that's good news for McCain. MI has also been competitive in some polls, even having McCain leading in May. Flipping either of these states are disastrous for Obama, but highly unlikely. Same is true in reverse for FL, and the latest poll has that state very close, but compared to other polls, that appears to be an outlier. It's very very bad news for McCain if it isn't an outlier. He needs to remove this state from the battleground list.

And People Call Bush Arrogant?

President George W. Bush (R-USA) could take arrogance lessons from Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and his team.

From a senior advisor, discussing his speech in Germany (emphasis mine):

“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.

And remember the earlier quote I brought up from the Senator (emphasis mine):

I wasn't saying anything I hadn't said before, that I didn't say a year ago or when I was a United States senator.

Did the election already happen?  I must've missed it.

I'm not the only one who's noticed.  I've seen three different articles this week about Mr. Obama's ego.

Joan Vennochi in The Boston Globe has it this way:

JUST LIKE the Obama girl, Obama has a crush on Obama.

She compares him to Senator John McCain (R-AZ):

McCain's humility comes through in his book, "Faith of my Fathers," which he wrote at age 63, after completing a career in the US Navy and moving onto politics. Obama wrote the more self-reverential "Dreams from My Father," after he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review.

Charles Krauthammer is more blunt in Investor's Business Daily:

Americans are beginning to notice Obama's elevated opinion of himself. There's nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times.

As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

And then there's Tom Bevan for Real Clear Politics who quotes both Jim Geraghty and Marc Andreessen in his dissection of Obama's ego:

SPIEGEL: Critics say the trip is nothing but a PR stunt to strengthen his foreign-policy credentials and that he has only rarely been to Europe before.

Rice: Senator Obama has travelled to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia many times before. He lived in Asia. He bows to nobody in his understanding of this world.

Intentional or not, the phrase "he bows to nobody" is the kind of tone deaf rhetoric that reinforces the narrative about Obama's arrogance.

That from Geraghty, and also:

Far more telling than what a surrogate says publicly, however, is what the candidate himself says privately. And the Der Spiegel item reminded me of this post by Netscape founder and internet wunderkind Marc Andreessen. The post is dated March 3, 2008, but in it Andreessen recounts a conversation he had with Senator Obama in early 2007 as he was gearing up to run for President.

Near the end, Andreessen asked Obama directly about his lack of foreign policy experience, and this is how Obama responded:

We then asked, well, what about foreign policy -- should we be concerned that you just don't have much experience there?

He said, directly, two things.

First, he said, I'm on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where I serve with a number of Senators who are widely regarded as leading experts on foreign policy -- and I can tell you that I know as much about foreign policy at this point as most of them.

Even the McCain team has noticed, calling Obama "The One":

"I don't know that people in Missouri are going to like seeing tens of thousands of Europeans screaming for The One," quipped a McCain aide, deploying a moniker some in the campaign use to poke fun at Obama's exalted status in certain quarters.

And Glenn Reynolds opined:

If Barack Obama is elected President, he'll be far more warlike than President Bush, and far more warlike than his pre-election rhetoric suggests. Because before he's elected President, attacks on America are just attacks on America. But after he's elected President, attacks on America will also be attacks on Barack Obama.


Add it all up, and it's definitely not good for Mr. Obama.

Jonah and Tom Get It On Iraq

Jonah Goldberg and Tom Bevan each realize that the success of the surge is actually a bad thing for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and good for Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). A point I made over a month ago. Welcome to the party gentlemen.  You're a bit late, but there's still food at the buffet tables.

Goldberg says:

But the tragic Catch-22 for the Arizona senator is that the more the surge succeeds, the more politically advantageous it is for Obama.
Voters don't care about the surge; they care about the war. Americans want it to be over -- and in a way they can be proud of.

And Bevan brings up some recent Quinnipiac polls:

MI: Economy 56, Iraq 18
CO: Economy 47, Iraq 19
MN: Economy 51, Iraq 21
WI Economy 50, Iraq 20

As I said in June, the surge has put Iraq largely out of the minds of the electorate. People are concerned about other things. McCain needs to concentrate on the things the people are concerned about.

Actually, I would dispute even those Quinnipiac polls.  I don't think people have the economy as their #1 issue. They have the price of gas as their #1 issue and economy #2 (no, the two are not unrelated).

So, as I keep saying:

It's the price of gas, stupid.

McCain Team Takes On the Media

I may have to go back to my 15 points post and see how well Senator John McCain is doing.

What an Idiot

Ok, I try to keep this blog relatively snark free, despite my obvious disdain for some people and their politics.

But, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is an idiot.

Not content to be stupid once, he does it again.

It's the Price of Gas, Stupid

I've been using the "It's the price of gas, stupid" line for some time now, but I finally have a post worthy of the title.

One candidate finally appears to get it.  One candidate clearly doesn't.