Sunday, October 19, 2008

My take on the state of the race

OK, here's my take on things: despite the national polls tightening a point or two in recent days, Obama is still in a very good position and almost certain to win. Basically, Obama has a 4-5 point lead, and this has been steady for a long time. Also, the way voters are distributed means that Obama's electoral college position is slightly better than his popular vote situation. That means that that even if McCain claws his way back to 50-50 or slightly better, Obama will likely still win the the electoral college.

If you want to play around with individual electoral college scenarios, tools like this one or this one are useful. I played with it today, and it really drives home what a difficult position McCain is in.

None of this is reason for complacency: nobody knows how this election will turn out, and polls have been spectacularly wrong before. And we still have over 2 weeks to go. And the bigger Obama's victory, the more of a mandate he'll have and the longer his coattails will be. Assuming Obama wins, there will be a fringe of people who are going to claim he did so by fraud. The bigger Obama's win, the more absurd these people will sound.

The McCain campaign is decending into the gutter with massive amounts of Robocalls (which Ambinder claims usually aren't that effective). But Obama has more than enough money to fight back. There's going to be a lot of ugliness. McCain's supporters have been recorded saying some horrible things lately:

And here's Minnesota Congressperson Michelle Bachman ranting about how Obama is anti-American:

But I like what Ta-Nehisi Coates says about this kind of thing:
I'll simply add that Bachmann makes me proud to be an American--proud and extremely thankful. Here's the thing, in other countries, many of which are dear to my heart, people like Bachmann don't simply go on television and rant, they have very large guns and friends with very large guys. The same hateful jingoism you see running through the following screed, is the exact same jingoism that leads to massacres in other parts of the globe.

Fortunately we live in a nation of laws and relative sanity, which allows Bachmann to rant her heart out and me to laugh at her while I prepare dinner. Yes I know, don't laugh to hard, son. We have our own history and we have to stay on guard. But still we've gotten better.
In the long term, I think it's a good thing that some of this ugliness is being revealed. We still have a lot of work to do to bridge the divides in our society.

Anyway, back it kicking ass in the upcoming election: It would be awesome if Democrats could get huge majorities in the House and Senate. Getting a filibuster proof majority in the Senate would prevent a lot of obstructionism, and if Democrats got enough seats to do it without Joe Lieberman that would be even more awesome. (Intrade currently lists a 9% chance of Democrats getting 61 seats in the Senate. I actually own some of those contracts: it's a longshot but I think there's a good chance this could be a huge wave election. Note that the price of the McCain futures on Intrade are being manipulated by some sucker who is willing to lose thousands of dollars to make McCain look slightly better).

I really hope Proposition 8 (stripping marriage rights from same-sex couples) in California goes down.


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