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September 2008
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Electoral College: VA Flips to Obama, Obama retakes the lead!

Two states of good news for Obama, but some words of caution on both.

Virgina (13 ev): With today’s polls (including three new polls in Virginia) Virginia moves from “Lean McCain” to “Lean Obama”. This change moves the overall “if everybody gets their leans” view of the race from an electoral college tie to an Obama win. However, as usual with this sort of change, there is a big caveat. In this case we have gone from an 0.4% McCain lead to a 0.6% Obama lead. There is not really a significant difference between those two numbers. What we have is a too close to call race in this state. *All* swing states are almost by definition states where the current polling numbers show a tight enough race that it would be folly to have any confidence in a prediction of which way the state will go. We had a close race in Virginia before, we have a close race now. Which side of the line the state is on this very moment does not actually significantly change the character of the race.

New Mexico (5 ev): New Mexico moves from “Lean Obama” to “Weak Obama”, moving it once again out of swing state status. The caution here is that my boundary between these two categories is a 5% lead by Obama. With each new poll since the end of August, New Mexico has moved back and forth from just over 5% in my five poll average, to just below 5%. It just keeps bouncing back and forth. It appears New Mexico is basically flat, just staying exactly where it needs to in order to hover on the line between my categories and flip back and forth occasionally. I wouldn’t put much stock in the state REALLY being in one category or the other unless it actually stays there for awhile. And once again, with the state being right on the line, there probably is not really a huge difference between where New Mexico was yesterday and where it is today.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 336, Obama 202
Obama Best Case – Obama 378, McCain 160

If everybody gets their leans – 282 Obama, 256 McCain

The lesson for today is just that small basically meaningless changes in individual states can make big jumps on the charts. This is in the nature of a winner takes all electoral college system. So when a state flips categories, great. But don’t trust the sudden changes as indication of a trend… unless they last and are confirmed by other changes.

Having said that, the charts are now starting to look like we really are seeing a full fledged movement toward Obama in all categories… not just movement of “Weak McCain” states to “Lean McCain”. It is still early though, and there is a chance some of these changes are ephemeral. So we need to continue waiting to see if new polls confirm and strengthen this trend… or not.

In the mean time, given the still huge 176 electoral college votes which are too close to call, we still have an overall election without a clear leader.

Paul Retrospective

Damn it, he really should have run as an independent after he lost the Republican nomination. While I think Obama would make a better actual president, I agree with Ron Paul on a much higher percentage of issues. (Of course, on one or two things, he does jump off the deep end…) But it would be great to have his third voice in the middle of an Obama/McCain debate.

And yes, even with some of the obvious flaws he showed during the primaries, I’d have to very seriously think about voting for him rather than Obama. (Although, in the end, I might come back to Obama, because really, it is about more than just issues and positions.)

(via The Daily Dish)

Starting School

I didn’t follow her and take a picture of her heading in with her backpack like I did for Amy (although I was tempted!), but Brandy started school yesterday. Just a few classes to start with. First semester is courtesy of Uncle Sam. Chances are that after that it will be courtesy of Sam I Am. But that is OK by me.

First Dude

‘First Dude’ Todd Palin Illustrates Alaska’s Blend of Private and Public
(Alec MacGillis and Karl Vick, Washington Post, 22 Sep 2008)

Todd Palin grew up as the archetypal Alaskan — salmon fisherman, champion snowmobiler, North Slope oil worker. But since his wife became governor 20 months ago, his portfolio has broadened: househusband, babysitter, senior adviser, legislative liaison, and — when the occasion warrants — enforcer and protector.

He has supervised renovations to the governor’s mansion and hopscotched by plane back and forth to Juneau to juggle duties as father and “First Dude,” as he has come to be known. And to a degree that has surprised many state government observers, Todd Palin also has become involved in policy, sitting in on his wife’s meetings, traveling on state business and weighing in on some legislative issues.

(via Huffington Post)

The Conservative Obama

A week or so old, but still a good read:

A Conservative for Obama
(Wick Allison, D Magazine, 17 Sep 2008)

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.

(via Daily Kos)