Polls and Clinton for VP

I’ve seen a lot of polls cited which show that Democrats want Hillary Clinton for vice president or that Obama would do better with her on the ticket. There are some problems with this analysis. Clinton should be expected to poll well for the vice presidential spot due to name recognition. There is an excellent chance that who ever is eventually picked will be someone that most non-political junkies don’t even know of at present. Clinton is also at her strongest point with regards to polling for vice president having come off a campaign where Obama took the high road and did not bring up hardly any of the baggage which comes with Clinton. The Republicans will bring it all up (and probably find or invent a bit more), weakening her as a vice presidential candidate.

AP has a better take on the question, showing that Clinton both helps and hurts Obama with different groups:

Lots of Democrats love Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yet plenty of Republicans, conservatives and all-important independents can’t stand her, suggesting possible pitfalls for Barack Obama should he make her his vice presidential running mate.

The intense dislike for Clinton suggests that besides support from women and others she could bring to the ticket, she might make it harder for Obama to win over some independents, a pivotal swing group in the November election against Republican John McCain. It also means she might push some Republicans and conservatives to vote against the Democrats — or donate money to the GOP — who might otherwise lack motivation to do so because of tepid feelings toward McCain.

A substantial 32 percent of independents strongly dislike Clinton, 10 points more than say so about Obama, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll. Independents, a group that both Obama and McCain won during their party primaries this year, comprised a quarter of voters in the 2004 election and have been closely contested in every presidential election since 1992.

In addition, 67 percent of Republicans have very unfavorable views of Clinton, 24 percentage points more than feel that way about Obama. Among conservatives the spread is similar — 58 percent say they feel very negatively about her, 18 points more than say so about Obama.

Many of those who will not vote for a ticket with Clinton on it will not vote for a Democrat under any circumstance. There are many other voters who do support Obama but have an unfavorable view of Clinton. This should not come as a surprise after the primaries:

Other groups with significantly stronger negative feelings about Clinton than Obama include whites under age 30, male college graduates, white men and whites earning at least $100,000 a year.

Yes, us “elitists” don’t like Clinton at all. While I would still vote for any ticket headed by Barack Obama as opposed to John McCain, many others in these demographic groups will not. Another problem is that factors beyond what those expected often become more important:

History shows that vice presidential nominees don’t always work out as planned.

Gallup polls showed that when Rep. Geraldine Ferraro became the first female major party vice presidential candidate in 1984, over half said she made them likelier to back the party’s ticket, headed by Walter Mondale. By October, after much of the campaign ended up focusing on questions about her husband’s taxes, more people said her presence made them likelier to vote against Mondale than for him.

If Ferraro’s husband’s financial dealings were a problem, just wait until the voters learn about Bill Clinton’s financial activities after leaving office.

How To Dress Like a Nerd

Over the past week my wife decided she wanted to watch Big Bang Theory again. The entire first season. I must say the show holds up very well in the second viewing, and was just as funny even though we knew how each episode played out. Of course my wife finds it even more amusing when I know what they are talking about and nobody else does when they talk about topics such as computers, comics, and science fiction. Our daughter also joined us to watch several episodes. She found the show entertaining but, being a teen aged girl, couldn’t help asking (in a shocked tone of voice), “Where do they get those clothes?”

The geek-ware used on the show is amazing, and hard to find. It turns out that there is a web site which does link to places which does sell their clothes, appropriately named SheldonShirts.com

Now if I could just find a source for the time machine from movie based upon the H.G. Wells classic novel, which one of the episodes was written about. (Preferably one that works.)

Quote of The Day: George Bush Explains How The Economy Works

“And so the fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there’s jobs at the machine-making place.”

George Bush, visiting the Silverado Cable Co., Mesa, Ariz., May 27, 2008. I wonder what he would say after watching Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines.

Jessica Alba Gives Birth To Girl, Qualifies For NBC Reality Show

Congratulations to Jessica Alba on the recent birth of her baby girl. Word around the blogosphere is that this event makes Alba the odds on favorite to win should she decide to become a contestant on the new NBC reality show, MILF Island. (Full episode here).


The Clinton-Obama Meeting

The first video from the meeting between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has finally leaked out and is posted here.

And How Did John McCain Score On A Mini Mental Status Exam?


We’ve seen reports about John McCain’s medical exam, but I sure wonder if he has ever had a mini mental status exam administered. It is a quick and easy test which serves as a general screen of whether there are cognitive problems requiring more sophisticated follow up.

It is common to make gaffes when candidates campaign non-stop, with the camera always on them. Even Barack Obama made a rather big one when he mentioned campaigning in fifty-seven states. I won’t try the Bill Frist act of trying to actually diagnose someone based upon video clips, but the number of gaffes coming from John McCain is at least enough to raise concern and suggest that actual testing might be needed.

McCain has made numerous gaffes with regards to Iraq and foreign policy. The average person might be expected to get the facts wrong, but this is supposedly McCain’s strong suit. I’d sure hate to see him discuss a topic he is weak on (such as the economy). In the video above, McCain says that Putin is the president of Germany. (Or maybe McCain is warning us about Putin’s ambitions for expansion.) Today McCain was also found to be in error when he claimed that he did not include a line in the delivery of his speech last night. The video shows otherwise. As John Cole said, “He is either lying, or he does not remember what he said.”

By the way, anyone remember this old letter from John McCain to Barack Obama? It sure does look a little weird.

Libertarians and Conservatives for Obama

I’ve discussed several time how Barack Obama is receiving support from many libertarians and conservatives, as well as libertarian aspects of Obama’s views. This includes favorable comments from David Friedman. Bruce Bartlett has an article on this support in The New Republic:

The largest group of Obamacons hail from the libertarian wing of the movement. And it’s not just Andrew Sullivan. Milton and Rose Friedman’s son, David, is signed up with the cause on the grounds that he sees Obama as the better vessel for his father’s cause. Friedman is convinced of Obama’s sympathy for school vouchers–a tendency that the Democratic primaries temporarily suppressed. Scott Flanders, the CEO of Freedom Communications–the company that owns The Orange County Register–told a company meeting that he believes Obama will accomplish the paramount libertarian goals of withdrawing from Iraq and scaling back the Patriot Act.

Libertarians (and other varieties of Obamacons, for that matter) frequently find themselves attracted to Obama on stylistic grounds. That is, they believe that he has surrounded himself with pragmatists, some of whom (significantly) come from the University of Chicago. As the blogger Megan McArdle has written, “His goal is not more government so that we can all be caught up in some giant, expressive exercise of collectively enforcing our collective will on all the other people standing around us in the collective; his goal is improving transparency and minimizing government intrusion while rectifying specific outcomes.”

In nearly every quarter of the movement, you can find conservatives irate over the Iraq war–a war they believe transgresses core principles. And it’s this frustration with the war–and McCain’s pronouncements about victory at any cost–that has led many conservatives into Obama’s arms. Francis Fukuyama, the neoconservative theorist, recently told an Australian journalist that he would reluctantly vote for Obama to hold the Republican Party accountable “for a big policy failure” in Iraq. And he seems to view Obama as the best means for preserving American power, since Obama “symbolizes the ability of the United States to renew itself in a very unexpected way.”

You can find similar sentiments coursing through the Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich’s seminal Obamacon manifesto in The American Conservative. He believes that the war in Iraq has undermined the possibilities for conservative reform at home. The prospects for a conservative revival, therefore, depend on withdrawing from Iraq. Thus the necessity of Obama. “For conservatives, Obama represents a sliver of hope. McCain represents none at all. The choice turns out to be an easy one,” Bacevich concludes.

How substantial is the Obamacon phenomenon? Well, it has even penetrated National Review, the intellectual anchor of the conservative movement. There’s Jeffrey Hart, who has been a senior editor at the magazine since 1968 and even wrote a history of the magazine, The Making of the American Conservative Mind; and Wick Allison, who once served as the magazine’s publisher.

Neither man has renounced his conservatism. Both have come away impressed by Obama’s rhetorical acumen. This is a particular compliment coming from Hart, who wrote speeches for both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. They both like that Obama couches his speeches in a language of uplift and unity. When describing his support for Obama, Allison pointed me in the direction of a column that his wife (who has never supported a Democrat) wrote in The Dallas Morning News: “He speaks with candor and elegance against the kind of politics that have become so dispiriting and for the kind of America I would like to see. As a man, I find Mr. Obama to be prudent, thoughtful, and courageous. His life story embodies the conservative values that go to the core of my beliefs.”

But, if you’re looking for the least likely pool of Obamacons, it would be the supply-siders. And you can even find some of those. Take Larry Hunter, who helped put together the economics passages in the Contract with America and served as chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He concedes that Obama is saying the wrong things on taxes but dismisses it as electioneering. Of far greater importance, in Hunter’s view, is that Obama has the potential to “scramble the political deck, break up old alliances, and bring odd bedfellows together in a new coalition.” And, what’s more important, he views the Republican Party as a “dead, rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of Weekend at Bernie’s, handcuffed to a corpse.” Unless the Republican Party is thoroughly purged of its current leadership, Hunter fears that it “will pollute the political environment to toxic levels and create an epidemic that could damage the country for generations to come.”

PhDiva has a listing of prominent Obamacons. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan)

Update: Another sign of the continued influence of Chicago school economics on Obama. Greg Sargent reports that Austan Goolsbee is back acting as a surrogate on economic matters. (Now if they can return Samatha Power from her exile due to calling Hillary Clinton a monster we can return to the Austan-Power team of advisers).

McCain Having Problem With Evangelical Voters

In 2000 John McCain opposed George Bush and criticized the religious right as “agents of intolerance.” The New York Times notes that evangelicals are still wary of McCain, and might not turn out to vote for him. Robert Novak gives similar warnings in his column.  It is often forgotten that not long ago evangelical voters were voting Democratic–for Jimmy Carter. This year the more openly religious candidate is once again a Democrat.

The two party system has served to form two broad coalitions composed of people who share some views and disagree on others. There is no inherent reason why religious voters should also agree with conservatives on economics or support the war in Iraq. There are actually strong reasons for them not to, and many are now questioning Republican viewpoints.

For years the Republicans have managed to keep their diverse coalition together. The height of this came when George Bush gave the religious right far more than any of his predecessors, who would typically appeal to them during elections but give them very little. With the overall collapse of the Republicans there is more of a chance that religious voters will reassess their allegiance to the Republicans. Obama might appeal to many as the more openly religious candidate. From there they might be more open to listening to Democratic viewpoints than they have in the past on other issues.

Hopefully Obama can also transform the way they look at politics and government. Historically religious leaders have often been strong supporters of separation of church and state, as Obama has noted himself. Hopefully Obama can also convince religious voters of the importance of separation of church and state, including to guarantee them the ability to worship as they choose, as opposed to using government to impose their religious views.