Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is there potential for a landslide?

Yes. There is potential.

I'll quickly summarize why I think there IS potential, then give a much lengthier reason why it may not occur.

OK the first doubt that should come to mind, with anyone paying attention in the polls; is that the candidates are essentially still tied, with Obama MAYBE leading by 5-10 points (which is not insignificant).

By, we dont go by the popular vote, unfortunately, so what counts are electoral votes. So it all goes state by state.

Now if we assume the current, average polls are accurate (and I cannot emphasize enough the fact that they can be greatly OFF), but if we assume they are accurate, then Obama right now has leads in enough states to clearly pull a win (which is 270 or more electoral votes.) But that is not a landslide.

But where it gets interesting, really interesting, are the "toss up" states:

I know the writing is small on this (sorry) but basically the key says: DARK BLUE is solidly Obama, LIGHT BLUE is leaning Obama, similarly, DARK RED is solidly McCain and LIGHT RED is leaning McCain. GREEN is a toss up.

THE GOAL is to get to 270. If you add up all the BLUE, Obama has 260. If you add up all the RED McCain has 158.

THe obviously conclusion, Obama only really needs to win ONE or TWO green states to win. I mean Florida is fucking 27 electoral votes, Obama only needs 10. So, big advantage. McCain needs to win almost all of them.

So why is there potential for landslide?

There is a lot of speculation that the polls may be overstating Obama's lead; for one thing he had a huge lead going into the NH primary, then lost; for another there is a so-called racial bias that makes it look like a black candidate is higher than he actually is.

But what if the polls are understating his lead? Here is what I think may be the underlying cause for a potential landslide:

1. HE GOT GAME - The #1 reason Obama may have a landslide is he has what appears to be the best ground operation in history. Because when you poll someone, you assume they are going to vote. But not everyone votes, not everyone who says they are going to vote will vote. So it comes down to who will get their people to the polls. And people seem to be saying McCain has a really shitty ground game; but Obama's is amazing.

2. THE YOUTH - This is always overstated, but you never know. A - Most young people have cell phones as their primary contact, and pollsters call Land Lines. B - As a former pollster myself, we usually get a list of registered voters from the PREVIOUS election, meaning all new voters are not counted. We know Obama has a sizable lead among young voters; but all Democrats do, whats the difference?

1. HE GOT GAME - Obama has a weird cult of personality that is especially prevalent among young Americans. Dont ask me why, I dont really get it, but he's no John Kerry. Young people go crazy for him and they just may come out and rock it.

So look back at this map:

A remote, tiny possibility; is that Obama wins all the blue states and most if not all the Green States. 380 electoral votes. That may not be a landslide, but its a LOT.

But here is why he may not; the following is a summary of landslides (electoral and by popular vote). I think the odds are against Obama as an African-American and just as a Democrat.

The largest electoral landslide was in 1984, in which Reagan won 58% of the vote, and lost only 1 state (Minnesota) and the District of Columbia.

Could Obama win in a landslide when its so close? Maybe, maybe not. TO understand best, its good to look at 5 recent so-called landslides, three of them what might be called "Realignment" elections.

FDR was election in 1932; and began enacting the New Deal. It was so wildly popular that he was re-elected in a shattering landslide, losing only two states (Maine and Vermont) but garning an astonishin 60.8% of the vote.

Its important to note this landslide was a RE-ELECTION, which most are.

The next big landslide was in 1964. Johnson was elected Vice-President in 1960, but the President (Jack Kennedy) was murdered in 1963, elevating Johnson to the Presidency. The Republicans happen to elect a radical named Barry Goldwater.

As McCain says incessantly; MY FRIENDS, this was and is today the largest election landslide in American history, measured by the popular vote. Johnson pull away with over 61% of the vote.

But it changed everything. EVERYTHING. AND we are still feeling it today.

The Solid South was solidly Democrat from Reconstruction to 1964 because it was the party of White Power in the South. After his election in 1964 Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, and remarked to Billy Moyers that this may cost the Democrats the south for a "generation."

Well a man named Dick Nixon picked up on it and used whats called the Southern Strategy; meaning he ran in the south proclaiming a love of States Rights, against Affirmative Action, and other racial topics. This eeked him to victory in 1968 but vaulted him to what became the biggest ELECTORAL landslide in American history (to that date) when he won EVERY SINGLE STATE EXCEPT.... Massachusetts :-)

Oh yeah and he lost the District of Columbia too. But thats not a state...

Anyway Nixon fucked up bad and had to resign. Ford took over in 1974, ran for election in his own right in 1976 and lost to Jimmy Carter. It was a close election and not a landslide. And the South actually largely went for Carter, he being a Southern himself, positioned as a moderate Democrat.

Yes Reagan won one vote.

Well Carter had a tricky term which we wont get into, but a B list actor who's previous jobs included being a corporate spokesman for General Electric and making speeches paid by the American Medical Association claiming that Medicare will lead to Communism; and he was former governor of CA; ran for President.

BUT its funny to see how Reagan started his campaign. "STATE'S RIGHTS" had been a rallying cry to Southern States to continue slavery; and it was a rallying cry for Southern States to continue Jim Crow and Segregation laws. When the federal government attempted to pass civil rights legislation, the Southern States cried it was violating "STATE'S RIGHTS".

In 1964, the same year of Johnson's landslide, the same year of that famous Civil Rights Act that lost the South for the Democrats; was also the year of one of the most famous civil rights murders in American history. Three men, one black and two white, were in Philadelphia, Mississippi registering blacks to vote. The Ku Klux Klan got to them, beat them, shot them, and burned the bodies. (This was not, unfortunately, an isolated incident, but happen to garner national press attention.)

In 1980 Ronald Reagan came to Philadelphia, Mississippi, now famous for the lynchings, to launch his presidential campaign; making a speech centered around his desire to protect state's rights. But I digress...

Here is the 1980 electoral map:

Yes he won big, and it wasnt even a re-election.

I wont say much more on Reagan except created whats called the Reagan Coalition; which is.... Big Business, evangelicals, southern racists, white, and working class people who think "liberals" only care about minorities and are going to take all their money (the so-called Reagan Democrat.)

In 1984 Reagan managed to pull off what is still today the largest ELECTORAL landslide in American history (thought he did not beat Johnson in the popular vote, getting 58% to Johnson's 61%)

AND WE end really here because since then we have been living in the age of Reagan.

That is to say, there are Blue States (the North East, the Great Lakes States, and the West Coast) and the Red States (The Solid South and Midwest) with only a few states here and there switching, the so-called "Swing States"

TO exemplify here are the electoral maps of 1996, 2000 and 2004:

So obviously, even if Obama wins, it would be hard to change all those red states to Blue. Perhaps it will happen in his re-election, perhaps not.

But... you never know

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Studying for a mid-term and was reading some Hans Morganthau, thought this (his 5th of Six Principles of Political Realism, from his book Politics Among Nations):

"All nations are tempted – and few have been able to resist the temptation for long – to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe. To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another. There is a world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgment of God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that God is always on one’s side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to be willed by God also.

The lighthearted equation between a particular nationalism and the counsels of Providence is morally indefensible, for it is that very sin of pride against which the Greek tragedians and the Biblical prophets have warned rulers and ruled.

That equation is also politically pernicious, for it is liable to engender the distortion in judgment which, in the blindness of crusading frenzy, destroys nations and civilizations -- in the name of moral principle, ideal, or God himself."

What does that remind me of! The sad thing is that the Bush Administration is not the entire embodiment of this concept; but merely an extreme manifestation of something that has prevailed since the Republic was founded. Ben Franklin once said,

"If a sparrow can fall to the ground without His notice,
it is likely that an empire can rise without His help?"

Which the Cheneys found so delightful they put it on their annual Christmas Card in 2003 (the first Christmas after invading Iraq.) How delightful...

Going back to Morgenthau; I think it was Thomas Aquinas who described Pride as the worst sin of them all. And he may have been quoting the messiah himself, Jesus Christ. I don't care to look it up as I have to continue studying


There he is...

Colin Powell was on Meet the Press today and officially endorsed Barack Obama. I don't know if this is significant or not, I don't particularly care as I'm not really a fan of Powell's anyway, but he did say something that I thought was very profound and almost completely missing from recent discussion of race.

There has been a whisper campaign for quite sometime (I don't believe its centrally coordinated) that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim. A Pew Research poll this July showed roughly 12% of the electorate believe him to be a Muslim (20% of Evangelicals believe this). He is repeatedly referred to by his opponents as Barack Hussein Obama. He has to explain to people, no he is not a Muslim.

At a recent McCain rally, some woman said she did not trust Obama because "he's uh...he's an Arab."McCain was praised because he corrected the woman, said Obama was not an Arab, he was a decent, family man.

HERE is what Colin Powell said, that I haven't heard anyone else say, that struck me today, regarding these inuendos and rumors that Obama is an Arab and/or Muslim:

"Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

Finally! My God did it really have to take this long for someone of prominence to say that? The fact that this context is virtually absent from the media speaks volumes of the levels of acceptable racism in this country against Arabs and Muslims.

Picture this. We have a campaign where two white men are running for president. One of them is of Eastern European descent; and there is a rumor that he is a closet Jew and has a secret Jew agenda. And at the opponents rally's people say they can't trust the other guy because "He's a Jew,"; and the all the opponent says is "No, no, he isn't; he is a decent family man who cares about this country."

I would hope people would be outraged; that the correct response should be "What if he was? Is there something wrong with that?" The only person I have heard say this is Powell. And there is something wrong with the fact that we do not hear more of that, from both McCain AND Obama.

Pardon my speculation, but its rather obvious Obama's campaign made a conscious decision not to say "No he isn't, but what if he was? There is nothing wrong with that" lest they look like they are defending Islam. Why? If person X is racist enough to care whether or not the candidate is Muslim, the campaign likely assumes they would associate any defense against racism with being a closet Muslim; or at the very least the campaign realizes a large segment of the electorate IS racist against Muslims and therefore they don't want to upset them by defending Islam. Simply put; its a strategic political descision not to upset racist white Americans who have enough to deal with having an African-American on the ticket. Shame on them.

For those who saw Powell on Meet the Press; he referred to a picture he saw in a recent photo essay, taken at Arlington National Cemetary.

In Powell's words

"I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards - Purple Heart, Bronze Star - showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.

And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life."

This is the photograph he was referring to.

From Jason Linkins:

"And some people, in fact, do have it harder than Joe The Plumber."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stock slide

Today's fall in the Dow. So much for recovering losses!

From the NY Times:

“I believe this is the sound that hedge funds make when they are imploding,” T.J. Marta, a fixed income strategist at RBC Capital Markets, said, characterizing the sell-off in the last hour.

Analysts said the market was continuing to react to the same fundamental factors that drove it lower in the morning, including weakness in the manufacturing sector, the large drop in retail sales and the growing realization that there will be no quick fix to the credit crisis.

Retail sales decreased 1.2 percent last month, nearly double the 0.7 percent drop that had been expected, according to one government report, while an index of New York manufacturing hit a record low in September.

“To some degree, we’ve moved on from the old crisis to the new crisis. The credit crisis has been addressed to some extent, but now there’s the recession, unemployment, and rising manufacturing costs in the pike,” a senior index analyst at Standard & Poor’s, Howard Silverblatt, said.

Nouriel Roubini says to expect a two year recession, 9% unemployment and further drops in home value.

He also keeps saying that while the measures that the Treasury are finally taking after much delay (partial nationalization) are good; but unfreezing credit markets are not enough. I think it was an NPR interview I heard with him yesterday where he stressed the need for a Home Owners Loan Corporation and a Keynesian style fiscal stimulus bill.

Except Republicans (and it seems most Democrats these days) revere Milton Freidman and supply side economics (which, I cannot emphasize enough, just doesn't work) and turned their back on Keynes in 1980.

So go out there and vote for liberal democrats! They are supposedly working on a massive infrastructure spending bill that will serve the purpose proposed by Keynes and Roubini.


Headline for the Financial Times when I logged on at 4:30EST.

"Stocks slide on mounting recession fears"

Really? They didn't assume a recession was coming one way or the other? Wasn't that a fundamental agreement by all parties on all sides of the spectrum, that whether or not this bailout works we are facing or are already in a recession? I very much doubt investors just kind of realized this.

Must avoid those two consecutive quarters of negative growth!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Its the end of the world as we know it!

I am hoping after the elections, that Obama wins, and he can jet set the G-7 to Bretton Woods and try again.

Terrific commentary
by Noam Chomsky on the topic. The economic liberalization that the US initiated in 1980 with Reagan (and Thatcher abroad), which was embraced by democrats and the moderate republican Bill Clinton; was really begun with Nixon when the original Bretton Woods system was destroyed.

Bit of background:

After the first collapse of global capitalism in the 1930's, each country had a go at it alone approach. Then toward the end of WWII all the major players, including the great John M Keynes took off to New Hampshire and settled down at a ski resort known as Bretton Woods; to establish a sound, common global capitalist system.

What Chomsky highlights, and is crucial I believe; is the need stressed to prevent capitalism from overruning democracy. They put checks on capital flight and had currencies pegged, instead of free floating. Why does this matter? One minute.

Vietnam was draining on the dollar and Nixon decided to rip of Bretton Woods to help the US. Instead of pegging the dollar to gold, the dollar was now pegged to nothing. So fell the house of cards. Currencies could float freely now. More on this later...

About this time Milton Friedman and his band of thugs were off promoting what would in the 80s be called the "Washington Consensus"; or in the 90's "Neoliberalism"; or "market reform" or "economic liberalization". Many names.

The premise was this: Capital and corporations should have no constraints whatsoever. And because the only way people CAN control them is through government, it was decided government was awful and must be destroyed. Everything must be privatized, regulations must be torn down, so-called free trade (which isnt free but thats another topic) was promoted.

But no one liked this in rich countries; so instead it was experimented in South America where the US installed right wing dictators who enacted Friedman's reforms in exchange for tactical support (see Naomi Klein for more on this).

These economic "reforms" were disaterous and eventually the dictators across Latin America were overthrown and replaced with democracy. But here's the kicker. Although the economic policies were hated by the people, the Western Corporations said they must stay. And if they do not? Capital flight and currency attack. They could destroy these countries. And in many cases did (see Argentina).

Then these reforms came to the US ala Ronald Reagan (and Britain ala Thatcher) where they kept railing that government is awful and must be destroyed, it cannot interfere with business. Being two democracies, the government is the public, and they were essentially arguing that democratic governments are awful, they should stand back and let corporations rule. The public should not have an opinion. "Government is the problem"

So for 30 years this was embraced by the US and England and pushed on much of the rest of the world. The result has been that for the vast majority of the American people, their incomes have either stagnated or declined for the last 30 years; despite economic growth and substantial gains for the top 5%

In fact its the first time in american (or world) HISTORY that we have had steady economic growth for years, with virtually no gain for the vast majority of the population. About this time credit and debt became very popular. So now for the past few years the US has had a negative savings rate for the first time since the Depression.

Anyway, here we are in 2008. For 90% of American's, their incomes were higher in 2000 then today. For 10% of Americans the last 8 years have been a dream come true.

But now the global economy is collapsing.

Now I'll just add this. From 1945-1970 was the most egalitarian and biggest growth for the majority of American people. What that means is we had economic growth, and that translated into income and wealth growth for the ENTIRE POPULATION.

Then stagflation and reaganism. Now we have had economic growth, but that translates to income decline or stagnation for most americans and wealth growth for the top 10% (and wild growth for the top 1%).

So when we consider the new system we will build (if they do) I hope they rely more on Keynes and Bretton Woods then Friedman and Reaganomics.

And I hope Obama is in the White House negotiating. But not with Clinton economic advisors