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The Collective
Friday, October 24, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

While the national numbers certainly don’t look good for McCain, the latest batch of state-level numbers is even worse. Nate Silver posted a plethora of such polls yesterday.

Specifically the following caught my eye:

Florida: the Miami Herald poll puts Obama at +7 and Quinnipiac at +5

Indiana: Big Ten poll, Obama +9.5 and SurveryUSA at +4

Ohio: Big Ten, Obama +11.5 and Quinnipiac at +14

Pennsylvania: Big Ten, Obama +10.4, Morning Call at +10, National Journal at +10, Quinnipiac at +13 and SurveyUSA at +12

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC comes news that European markets are all down substantially in trading today: Shares plummet on recession fears

European share markets have all fallen sharply on renewed recession fears, following an earlier sell-off in Asia.

London’s FTSE index plunged 7% after figures confirmed Britain’s economy shrank 0.5% in the last quarter - the first time in 16 years.

If I cut-and-pasted all of the down indicators, I would basically be posting the entire BBC piece. So for more details, follow the link.

Of course, all of this means a bad day on Wall Street as well. Via the AP: Stocks head for sharp decline on recession fears

Wall Street headed for another precipitous drop Friday as fears of a punishing global recession stirred panic among investors and sent world financial markets into a tailspin. The Dow Jones industrial average futures were down 550 points, triggering a freeze in selling.

The Nikkei was down 9.60% on word of poor earnings reports.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Steve Bainbridge:

Really, was there ever any doubt?

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Gallup has a comparative post of two versions of its likely voter model (the traditional model and one that attempts to take into consideration higher than normal turnout) and its registered voter poll: Obama Has Modest Lead Among Likely Voters.

Obama leads in all three, although not surprisingly, the gap between the candidates is more narrow in the traditional likely voter model (50%-46%) is less than in the expanded model (51%-45%) or the registered voter poll (50%-43%).

Looking across the polls, it seems likely that Obama will break the 50% popular vote threshold, which is symbolically significant, as it is perceived as conferring additional legitimacy to a win. The last Democrat to break the 50% barrier was Jimmy Carter in 1976. It is rather unlikely, however, that Obama will get anywhere near LBJ’s 61.05% from 1968.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via WaTi: EXCLUSIVE: McCain lambastes Bush years

Sen. John McCain on Wednesday blasted President Bush for building a mountain of debt for future generations, failing to pay for expanding Medicare and abusing executive powers, leveling his strongest criticism to date of an administration whose unpopularity may be dragging the Republican Party to the brink of a massive electoral defeat.

As I have noted on numerous occasions, this is something that I think that McCain should have been doing all along. The problem now, of course, is whether it will be perceived as authenticity or as just another tactical shift in the midst of a losing campaign. Or, more importantly, is the question of whether this is, in fact, just another tactic in the midst of a losing campaign or if it is a serious attempt to raise the issues (sadly, it almost certainly the former).

Not only would crticisms of Bush’s fiscal policies have helped him with the base, but a vigorous discussion of Bush’s view of the executive branch would have been helpful, I think, with a lot of the Republicans who have now endorsed Obama. Along those lines:

He rejected Mr. Bush’s use of issuing “signing statements” when he signs bills into law, in which the president has suggested that he would ignore elements of the bills, labeling them potentially unconstitutional.

“I would veto the bills or say, ‘Look, I don’t like it but I’ll obey the law that’s passed by Congress and signed by the president.’ I think the signing statements was not a correct implementation of the power of the executive. I think it was overstepping,” he said.


“…I don’t agree with [Vice President] Dick Cheney’s allegation that he’s part of both the legislative and the executive branch,” he said.

These are good places to start.1 More, please, as these are issues that need more public attention.

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  1. In fairness, McCain has criticized signing statements before. []
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By Dr. Steven Taylor

James Joyner has an excellent post on the subject.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Has anyone had any trouble with links from PoliBlog, especially internal links?

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

I continue to be amazed at the ineptitude displayed by the McCain campaign. The more obvious examples include squandering their head start in the campaign (McCain wrapped up the nomination well before his Democratic rival) and the lack of strategy to deal with the Bush problem (i.e., how to differentiate the candidate from the Bush administration-and no, repeating “Maverick” ad nauseam doesn’t count).

A smaller example is the current flap over the reported $150,000 spent on clothing and accessories for Governor Palin:
$150,000 Wardrobe for Palin May Alter Tailor-Made Image. My initial reaction was to ignore the story, but the more I think about, the more it struck me as emblematic of the campaign’s problems.

Consider: one of the arguments that the McCain campaign was using against Obama at about the time was to accuse Obama of being a celebrity as well as frequent accusations that Obama was an elitist. So, what does the McCain campaign do when rolling out their Hockey Mom denizen of a small town who is just like us and not like those elites? They spend more money than the vast majority of people make in a year (and indeed, more than a lot of people’s houses cost) on clothes from high-end stores:

the Republican National Committee spent $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue in September for Ms. Palin and her family.

Advisers to Ms. Palin said on Wednesday that the purchases — which totaled about $150,000 and were classified as “campaign accessories” — were made on the fly after Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, was chosen as the Republican vice-presidential candidate on Aug. 29 and needed new clothes to match climates across the 50 states. They emphasized, too, that Ms. Palin did not spend time on the shopping, and that other people made the decision to buy such an array of clothes.

Now, let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that it makes sense for clothing to be purchased for the Governor given that rushed nature of her nomination. Having done that, one has to ask the question what genius thought that the best way to accomplish this task was to shop at Neiman Marcus?

Beyond blowing the whole “elite” argument, the symbolism in terms of fiscal responsibility (remember that quaint notion) here is devastating. Can anyone make the case that the best way to acquire clothing is to drop $75K at Neimans? None of it exactly screams “reformer” and “Maverick.” and the financial crisis makes it all even worse. McCain is running around taking about greed and his running mate has a $150k wardrobe.

In short, this is a move that both smacks of elitism and fiscal irresponsibility-neither of which plays well for McCain. Were I McCain (or Palin, for that matter), I would fire the person or persons who made these decisions. Of course, they can’t because it would just bring even more media attention to the situation.

Ed Rollins summarized the situation quite well:

“It looks like nobody with a political antenna was working on this,” said Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant who ran President Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984. “It just undercuts Palin’s whole image as a hockey mom, a ‘one-of-us’ kind of candidate.”

In regards to what will happen to the clothing and the rules over the use of the funds in question:

Republican officials said all the clothes would be given to charity after the campaign is over. If Ms. Palin kept the clothes, the $150,000 would have to be taxed as income, tax experts said.

Had the purchases been made by the McCain campaign, it would be a conversion of campaign money into personal use, which is prohibited. The same rule does not apply to money from party committees.

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Getting back to the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that I noted yesterday, I see via Yahoo News that there are some interesting numbers in that poll in regards to Palin.


The one candidate whose popularity has fallen is Gov. Palin: 38% see her positively, down from 44% two weeks ago; 47% see her negatively, up 10 points from the last poll. That’s the highest negative rating of the four candidates. Fifty-five percent of voters say Gov. Palin is not qualified to be president if the need arises, up from 50% two weeks ago.

This leads to the “top concern” in the poll about McCain being “Running mate isn’t qualified” (34%) followed by “Would continue Bush’s policies” (23%).

To be self-indulgent for a moment, I wonder where all those commenters are who criticized and argued with me when I predicted that Palin would harm the ticket from the get-go? (Indeed, my only error may have been in under-predicting her harm). No doubt many would say that the media ruined Palin’s reputation, but I would counter that Palin herself, in her interviews, doomed herself. She was not ready to be thrust upon the national stage and McCain made a major blunder in choosing her. Again, as I noted (indeed, it was the first thing on my list) the day she was named, her selection damaged McCain’s whole “experience” argument and what is the “top concern” for voters regarding Obama? “Too inexperienced/not ready” (23%). So not only is Palin McCain’s biggest weakness according to this poll, but she helps inoculate Obama from his key weakness.

In regards to McCain’s second most significant concern, i.e., the Bush continuism, I would note that perhaps the most serious mistake that McCain made in this campaign is that he never made a cogent case as to why his administration would be a significant deviation from Bush’s.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

CQ Politics has its latest report on the which House races have changed status. The news is not, in general, good for the GOP. However, what stuck out at me was that fact that they had moved Wyoming from “Leans Republican” to “Tossup”.

From page three of the report:

Lummis, who has some statewide name ID from her past tenure as Wyoming treasurer, should have a clear shot to winning the state’s sole House seat as the Republican nominee. There are twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats in Wyoming. Yet the national political environment that has been working toward the Democrats’ benefit and against the Republicans is coming to bear even here.

Recent polling indicates Lummis is in a statistic tie with Democrat Trauner, who lost the 2006 contest to Cubin by just 1,012 votes. A poll released Friday by Research 2000 gave Trauner a 1-point lead over Lummis, 44 percent to 43 percent. The findings were consistent with a poll Survey 2000 released three weeks earlier that had Lummis and Trauner tied with 42 percent apiece.

This is remarkable. One does ultimately expect, given the Republican advantage in the state, that Lumis will win. However, it is a sign of the overall trouble the GOP finds itself in that the race is a tie at the moment.

It is worth noting that Wyoming hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Congress since 1974.

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