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September 2008
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The Real Palin on SNL??

So says the rumor.

I guess I’ll have to remember to try to watch.

Electoral College: Colorado Swings Again, Montana Stops Swinging

Three changes today, two of which are highlighted in the title, both of which are bad news for Obama. The third is good news for Obama, but less likely to matter.

Colorado (9 ev): Just a few days ago Obama’s lead in Colorado topped 5%, moving the state out of swing state status. Well, his lead sags back below 5% in the five poll average today, so Colorado once again moves from “Weak Obama” to “Lean Obama”. This may be a state like New Mexico though, where the reality is that we are right on the edge between these two categories, so new polls will cause the state to bounce back and forth.

Oregon (7 ev): This is the one piece of good news for Obama today. His lead in Oregon hits 10%, moving the state from “Weak Obama” to “Strong Obama”. He looked pretty secure in Oregon anyway though, so this probably won’t make much difference to anything.

Montana (3 ev): Another state in this part of the country that Obama had hoped to be able to flip to blue, or at least make competitive which now looks like it is not to be. McCain’s lead in the five poll average grows to over 5%, making Montana no longer a swing state as it moves from “Lean McCain” to “Weak McCain”.

New Summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 319, Obama 219
Obama Best Case – Obama 375, McCain 163

If everybody gets their leans – 286 Obama, 252 McCain

The movement over the last couple of weeks is still in Obama’s direction, but this is a reminder that things are still quite unsettled. And we still have 12 states and 156 electoral votes essentially up for grabs. Obama has an edge right now. But things can change drastically in just days.

By the way, of those 12 states, three have their candidate ahead by 4% or more in my five poll average… meaning that one new poll in the right direction could very easily push those states out of swing status. Those three states are Pennsylvania (21 ev) with a 4.6% Obama lead, Wisconsin (10 ev) with a 4.6% Obama lead and Colorado (9 ev) with a 4.0% Obama lead. If all three of those went over 5%, it would leave Obama 10 ev away from being able to win with only states he was ahead by more than 5% in.

Along the same lines, there is currently only one state where the lead the last five poll average is 1.0% or less. That would be New Hampshire, where Obama has exactly a 1.0% lead at the moment. One good poll for McCain could very easily move this back to McCain’s side of the fence.

Edit 22:08 UTC – A few minutes after posting the above, I decided to also check on weak states that were most likely to move into swing category. In the process I started to look at the margins for all of the weak states. Almost immediately I looked at Tennessee… and discovered to my horror that although McCain’s margin in Tennessee has *always* been over 10%, I have *always* had it listed as one of the “Weak” states… from the very beginning! I had never caught it before because the state is sparsely polled and had never changed categories. My apologies for the error. All current charts (including the one in this post) have been corrected, not just from now going forward, but retroactively. Charts in previous update posts remain how they appeared previously, with the “Strong McCain” red line 11 electoral votes lower than it should have been. All other lines were not affected. Because this was a weak/strong change, none of the best case scenarios were affected at all, so this in no way would have effected any of the analysis. (But the look at states likely to move from weak to lean will wait for another day.)

Big Green Musical Thing

Last weekend, joining a group from Amy’s school, went to see the musical version of Shrek. It has been here in Seattle working out the kinks and such before moving to Broadway. We saw it on the last day here.

I had low expectations. But it was cute and funny and stuff. What you would expect Shrek to be when translated to the stage.

Bottom line, it was fun. For those of you near New York who might consider going to that sort of thing, probably worth a trip into the city one night.

Lets see though, what were the highlights? Shrek himself was OK, but as with the movie, Donkey and Fiona were better. The Gingerbread man was funny. Pinocchio was annoying.

We also waited with Amy’s school group at the stage door afterwards for Amy to get autographs and such. She got a few. But nobody even noticed the three pigs when they left.

Oh yeah… and Amy wore Shrek ears for about 24 hours after the play ended, including all day at school the next day.

Summary Thoughts on First Debate

Writing this before I watch or read any commentary on the debate.

Brandy thinks Obama absolutely crushed. I think he did very well as well. I think he looked more Presidential, had a better command of his thoughts and positions. Also, McCain was clearly just attacking over and over to try to make a dent. Obama, aside from a few attacks which were probably unnecessary, stuck more to talking about what he would do and what he thought. McCain on the other hand spent most of his time on the attack. It seemed weak.

However… while Obama may have “won” on style and substance… I don’t think McCain “lost”. He did OK. He stood his ground. He babbled a little. But he didn’t have any major screw ups.

Neither did Obama.

My initial impression is that this will not change the mind of ANYONE who already had made up their mind in this race. Will it sway some undecideds? Maybe. Probably in Obama’s direction. He just looked more in control. And these things are rarely about what they actually say, but more often about general impressions left.

But I don’t think it will be a huge effect. Of course, in looking at polls, it will be impossible to separate the effect of this debate from the events of the last week. So we may never know.

But I think the momentum was in Obama’s direction before this, and this does not change that.

Now, time to start watching the spin.

And then maybe go to the grocery store with Brandy.

Live Blogging the First Debate

I’ve never tried live blogging anything, so I thought I would give it a try. I won’t make new posts, I’ll just keep updating this post whenever I have a thought that seems it making be worth posting. Perhaps this will end up just being a blank post if I have nothing to say. Dunno. I’ll try to remember to timestamp the comments as I make them. Timestamps will of course be UTC.

So, lets try a first one…

00:41 – 19 minutes until it starts. I’ll be watching on MSNBC tonight. Not for any real reason, just when I looked for the debate on the Tivo, it is the first one I found. Olberman was just talking to some guy, but now there is a commercial…. There ya go. Amazing content, don’t you think?

00:44 – My connection is being slow. This may get annoying. Also annoying, on the laptop I am on, the cursor occasionally jumps randomly around when I am trying to type.

00:47 – Brandy and I are going to be watching together on the big projector screen in our family room. Brandy isn’t here yet though. She’ll probably come down shortly. There should be popcorn.

00:49 – Speaking of Brandy… one quote from her that I’ve been meaning to post or mention on the podcast, but just never have… several weeks ago, reacting to some random thing Sarah Palin was saying on TV… “Go back to your igloo and have more babies, bitch.” So, OK, it is somewhat offensive on a variety of levels, but it made me laugh.

00:53 – Brandy is making popcorn now.

00:56 – Thinking of my original prediction for this election. It holds up well.

00:59 – Less than a minute to go.

01:01 – I like Jim Leher. Here we go.

01:02 – This format should be good. Would be better if they were sitting at a table though. In come the candidates.

01:04 – Obama is answering the first question, but I can’t think about anything other than the fact that Brandy is missing this and I should have told her to skip the popcorn. She doesn’t care that she is missing this, but I do, and I can’t concentrate on Obama while she is not where she is supposed to be. I have missed his whole answer.

01:06 – I paused it and went to get Brandy. Will rewind and be several minutes behind real time.

01:09 – Starting from the beginning again. Now 9 minutes behind real time.

01:10 – Being behind real time really bothers me too. But I don’t think there are any commercials, so I will not be able to catch up. I am distraught. But there is now popcorn. I would rather be live though, and not have had this 10 minute disaster.

01:11 – They are on stage again.

01:14 – Obama’s answer to the question about the bailouts – Bleh

01:15 – McCain bringing up Kennedy? What the hell. Kennedy wouldn’t like that. “I’m not feeling to great tonight”. Good start.

01:16 – Still can’t stop thinking about how we aren’t watching live and how much that bothers me.

01:17 – Whatever was wrong with McCain’s eye seems to be better today. Brandy: “He must be confused, did he just say we need to fix it by fixing it?”

01:18 – Not impressed by McCain’s first answer either. Now we get to see how the free wheeling 5 minutes works.

01:20 – Brandy is complaining about Obama’s grammar. Jim is trying to get them to really have a conversation. It isn’t working.

01:22 – McCain: “In the Wall Street”

01:23 – McCain is doing the bear joke again. Kill me.

01:26 – McCain is right about earmarks being bad. Obama is also right that it is a drop in the bucket compared to other things. I am getting calmer the more popcorn I eat. Oh, Obama interrupts McCain!

01:28 – Obama will go “line by line” through earmarks. Did a line item veto amendment pass while I wasn’t looking?

01:30 – McCain keeps trying to pin the earmark thing on Obama. I don’t think it will stick.

01:31 – Brandy on McCain: “That was just completely incoherent.” Obama now responding on taxes, talking about loopholes. This is all just blah blah blah.

01:32 – Pivot to healthcare. Time for a new question. But where is the damn foreign policy? This is supposed to be the foreign policy debate.

01:33 – Brandy “He just forgot what he was saying… did he forget to take his Alzheimer’s medicine?” on McCain.

01:34 – They are arguing now. Good.

01:35 – What are you going to have to give up to fund the bailout. Decent question. Still not foreign policy though. Obama is going through which things he wants to do. But so far hasn’t said which he would give up. Completely avoiding the question. Said “it would be hard to say” and now is just rattling off things that cost money. It was a good question. Obama is not answering it. Very annoying.

01:37 – McCain is not answering the question… wait, he just said he would eliminate ethanol subsidies. And Cost plus contracts. He is not quite fully answering the question, but he is a lot closer than Obama was.

01:39 – Jim trying to call them on not answering the question. Obama has now said “John is right” several times already. If he says it much more, it will be in a commercial.

01:41 – McCain just proposed a spending freeze. Obama saying you need to be more careful than that. I think Obama wins the point. Was this a new proposal from McCain?

01:43 – Jim still trying to ask the same question. McCain likes nukes.

01:45 – McCain doesn’t want to hand the health care industry over to the federal government. But apparently it is fine to hand the financial industry over.

01:46 – Obama said Orgy. Heh heh. Cue Bevis.

01:47 – Lessons of Iraq. Finally an actual foreign policy question. Brandy’s response to McCain’s first few sentences… “What?”

01:49 – McCain’s answer was OK. Obama’s is OK so far. Overall though this is boring.

01:51 – McCain: The next prez doesn’t have to decide on if to go into Iraq. They have to decide what to do now. Very right.

01:52 – My bowl of popcorn is now empty.

01:53 – McCain is smirking madly. Obama “You like to pretend the war started in 2007”.

01:54 – Obama doing a chorus of “you are wrong”. Brandy: “You know this is not going to get any better. Obama is crushing him. McCain has no idea what he is saying. He is all confused.”

01:55 – Brandy “Winning WHAT? What the hell are we winning?”

01:56 – Obama responding on troop funding. Explains the differences. Is trying to school McCain on the difference between tactics and strategy.

01:57 – They are talking over each other. Obama “that is not true”.

01:58 – Brandy “You can tell he (McCain) is starting to get anxious, because that is when he starts to lisp more.”

01:59 – Hey Mr Taliban, Tally me banana.

02:01 – Obama giving a long outline of what he thinks we need to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Calm. Collected. Sounds like he has thought about it.

02:02 – McCain chiding Obama for “saying out loud” things about Pakistan.

02:04 – Paused for a few seconds because Brandy couldn’t find Roscoe. Now 10 minutes behind real time. I hope nothing REALLY dramatic happens. I would hate to not be watching live if fisticuffs broke out or some such.

02:05 – Roscoe was upstairs. Now he is here.

02:06 – Obama explains his “Osama Hot Pursuit” comments, calls on McCain to say if he disagrees. Goes for a low blow on the “Bomb Bomb Iran” song.

02:07 – Obama is sounding like a thoughtful grownup here. I haven’t decided what McCain sounds like here.

02:08 – OK, I’ll be fair, McCain is sounding thoughtful here too at the moment.

02:09 – The bracelet story again from McCain. Can we please stop with the standard stump speech crap?

02:10 – Rebecca in comments says McCain just pulled down his pants. She is not fooling me into fast forwarding to real time.

02:11 – Roscoe got excited when Brandy played with him. He is barking now. Have to pause until Brandy takes him back upstairs.

02:12 – She fed him instead. We’ll see if this works. Obama has a bracelet too.

02:14 – Jim looks exasperated.

02:15 – Roscoe tried to knock over the table, so we are paused again. All good now. Brandy: “I still think McCain looks like someone who likes little boys. MAYBE little girls. I really think McCain is really incoherent here. Is he always like this”. Me: “Yes” Brandy “Then how the hell did he get this far?” Now she is babbling at the dog and I will unpause again.

02:17 – McCain: “Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand.”

02:18 – Iran is an existential threat to Israel. McCain talking about the League of Democracies. Said “straight talk”. I think this is the first time this debate. Will work with others. Serious threat. Etc. Have no doubt about the ultimate result.

02:21 – Obama bringing up how the war in Iraq strengthened Iran and how current policy hasn’t worked. But he just said “McCain is right” again about not tolerating a nuclear Iran. I tell you, a clip of Obama saying “McCain is right” over and over with a counter is being edited by someone as I type.

02:23 – McCain having trouble speaking.

02:24 – Talking about meeting the President of Iran. Obama is responding now. Saying he reserves the right to speak to whoever he wants if he thinks it will help.

02:26 – McCain looks tired.

02:27 – Obama giving strong defense of diplomacy and engagement. Using some of what W has done as examples. And Kissinger. Ooo… points out the Spain goof up by McCain. Low. You know he was just confused there. McCain responds by talking about the Presidental seal.

02:28 – “What Senator Obama doesn’t understand”. A theme there.

02:29 – McCain is intentionally misrepresenting what Obama has said… and just said two minutes ago. Of course he has to. Because what Obama is saying is perfectly reasonable. The only way to make it “scary” is to misrepresent it.

02:30 – McCain got off a zinger there “Oh please”

02:31 – McCain’s eyes bug out when he gets all excited like he just did when they were arguing there. Oh, just noticed the time. The real debate should be over now. We’re in the Tivo delay only now. People watching live are done unless they ran long.

02:32 – Talking about NATO now.

02:33 – Obama talks about what he would do. McCain talks about what Obama said. Oh no, the KGB joke…

02:34 – Reb says it is still going. Wonder if this is as true as the pants thing.

02:35 – Was this thing supposed to be 90 minutes or two hours? I thought 90 minutes.

02:36 – McCain: “Watch Ukraine”. Trying to show his expertise in the area. Not bad. Obama “Senator McCain and I agree”. There we go for the ad again.

02:37 – Arggh, spoilers from Reb!

02:39 – Exasperated sigh and shrug thing from McCain while Obama talks about energy.

02:40 – “I’m sorry John, that’s just not true.”

02:41 – Brandy: “Obama has pretty lips”. Me: “And McCain doesn’t?”. Brandy: “He only has one lip, Obama has two.”

02:42 – Talking about chances of a new 9/11. McCain talks about several things he did. Mentions Lieberman. Says “we should never torture ever again” which kind of admits that we have. Reb says it is over now in real time.

02:43 – Obama talking about nuke proliferation. Now Al Queda. “Last point” – the way we are perceived matters. Restore standing in the world. Duh.

02:45 – Gives McCain credit on torture. I would have too a few years ago, but he caved on that.

02:46 – “Senator Obama doesn’t Understand”. Again. This was McCain’s tagline of the night.

02:47 – Obama smirked for a second. But looks serious again now.

02:49 – McCain “There are some advantages to knowledge and experience”. Obama hasn’t got that. As Rebecca said in her spoiler comments, McCain said Obama is too inflexible to be president. So he’s complaining that Obama does not flip flop? OK. Although I’m not sure the record backs that up.

02:51 – Obama: father from Kenya, only country in the world, blah blah, heard it before. OK, good, he moved on from that. McCain “When I got back from prison”. Blah!

02:52 – “And that ends this debate.” Woo!

02:53 – I’ll post some wrap up thoughts in a new post in a few minutes. But this exciting live blog is now done. Brandy says she wants to go to the grocery store after I watch some commentary, but didn’t realize there will be hours of it. Anyway, this live blog is over.