Obama Expanding Lead In Gallup Poll

The conventional wisdom has been that the race will tighten by election day, but so far this is not happening. The national polls are mixed, showing minimal if any gain for McCain, and more importantly the number of red states where Obama is competitive continues to rise.

Earlier in the week McCain supporters were encouraged by McCain briefly moving within two points of Obama in Gallup’s traditional projection of likely voters. This is the poll where McCain has his best shot as it bases predictions of likely voters on whether people have voted in the past, dismissing Obama’s advantages among new voters. Even in this poll McCain could only come within two points, and each time he appears to be catching up Obama surges to a new lead. Today Gallup has Obama up by eight points in the model which most likely underestimates Obama’s support.

Gallup has Obama leading by nine points in their expanded model which includes new voters who express interest in the election and an intent to vote. Their poll of all registered voters shows Obama leading by eleven points, tying his largest lead.

We cannot assume polls will be correct and it is still necessary to get out to vote, but it would be unprecedented for a candidate to come back from so far behind. While some past elections have tightened in the final days, so far there is not strong evidence of it happening ths year. Making it even more difficult for McCain is the fact that even should McCain’s overall support increase, a larger number of votes are now locked in than in the past due to early voting. Obama’s advantages in fund raising should also assist him in continuing to get out the vote through election day.

Battleground Arizona

John McCain is returning home to Arizona earlier than planned due to his home state becoming the latest addition to the list of battleground states.  A few days ago I noted that some polls showed the state as close as two points. Tonight CNN moved Arizona from strongly for McCain to weakly for McCain. While I have always felt safer taking polls from Research 2000 with a grain of salt as they are commissioned by Daily Kos, they currently show McCain leading by only one point.

In seeing how close the race had become in Arizona I suggested that Obama should advertise there in order to force McCain to devote resources to the state. Since then McCain started using robo calls while Obama purchased ad time in the state. Now McCain is planning to attend a rally in Arizona on the eve of the election. My bet is that he still wins in Arizona, but this is forcing him to spend time which he would  prefer to spend in a state such as Pennsylvania or Ohio.

Even if he loses the election, I bet McCain would not want the humiliation of losing his home state. Losing Tennessee has proven to be an embarrassment to Al Gore, in addition to costing him the 2000 election. For McCain to lose Arizona would be even worse than for Gore to lose Tennessee. When Gore ran for president he had been serving as vice president as opposed to representing Tennessee for eight years, and everyone realized that the state had moved far to the right of where Al Gore was. It would be a much more shocking repudiation if Arizona were to reject McCain after repeatedly voting for him as Senator.

It might get even worse. The Research 2000 poll shows that if the 2010 Senate race was between Janet Napolitano and John McCain, Napolitano would win 53 percent to 45 percent. Of course polls this far out mean very little. McCain would have two years to repair some of the damage caused by the way he has conducted his campaign this year, and he won’t have Sarah Palin dragging him down. It is also possible that anti-Republican sentiment could lessen in two years, and the Republicans might even have an edge as the party out of power frequently does in off year elections.

Peggy Noonan Makes A Case For Barack Obama

Peggy Noonan, yes Ronald Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan, makes a case for Barack Obama:

He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.

A great moment: When the press was hitting hard on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, he did not respond with a politically shrewd “I have no comment,” or “We shouldn’t judge.” Instead he said, “My mother had me when she was 18,” which shamed the press and others into silence. He showed grace when he didn’t have to.

There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton’s 42%. That evening, a friend watched the victory speech on TV in his suburban den. His 10-year-old daughter walked in, saw on the screen “Obama Wins” and “Alabama.” She said, “Daddy, we saw a documentary on Martin Luther King Day in school.” She said, “That’s where they used the hoses.” Suddenly my friend saw it new. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory.

This means nothing? This means a great deal.

Noonan also wrote favorably of divided government and does present some scary scenarios from a conservative perspective which exaggerate how far left both Obama and the Democratic Congress are likely to be. For example she claims there is a danger of a return of the “fairness doctrine” even though Obama opposes it and there is little enthusiasm for it among most Democrats. Regardless of her qualms, Noonan appears to be reconciled to the outcome of the election:

But let’s be frank. Something new is happening in America. It is the imminent arrival of a new liberal moment. History happens, it makes its turns, you hold on for dear life. Life moves.

A fitting end for a harem-scarem, rock-’em-sock-’em shakeup of a year—one of tumbling inevitabilities, torn coalitions, striking new personalities.

Thomas Barnett Endorses Obama, Saying McCain Would Be “A Complete Disaster”

The conventional wisdom that John McCain had an advantage over Barack Obama on foreign policy has not panned out. While McCain has certainly had more years of exerience in the Senate, during the campaign Obama has showed a better grasp of the issues, better judgement, and a better temperment for dealing with international crises. This has resulted in Obama receiving the endorsements of numerous foreign policy experts. The latest is Thomas P. M. Barnett:

Talking to an Economist reporter today on an unrelated subject, so good a time as any to remind everyone of my great devotion to this mag. If I was stranded on the proverbial desert island (and I’ve said this for years), the Economist is the only subscription I’d carry.

This is the clincher for me, even though I voted nearly a month ago.

Obama’s task is the great unwinding of the Bush debacle, which Bush himself started these past two years, but which is likely to go four more. If Obama spends his first term unwinding both the financial crisis and the two wars well, then he wins a second term and there stands his real chance to imprint a different world moving forward.

McCain is just not the guy to do the unwinds. I honestly think he’d be a complete disaster, so my expectations for Obama are suitably set: unwind and reset in first term, come out charging like the America the world needs in term two.

Done well, this is one of the great rule-set resets of American and world history.

But no question, the need is great and the time is now and McCain is definitely not the leader for the job.

The endorsement from The Economist was discussed here.

Olbermann and McCain on Saturday Night Live

As I noted earlier, John McCain will be on Saturday Night Live this weekend. He will be joined by Keith Olbermann, or at least a skit mocking him. Olbermann reportedly crashed the rehearsal, but was amused by the skit:

Ben Affleck, who’s hosting “Saturday Night Live” this week, was rehearsing a skit this afternoon mocking Keith Olbermann when Olbermann himself got past security to watch, according to a source with knowledge of the incident.

A source described the skit as “savage,” in portraying Olbermann as a deranged person living at home with his mother. Affleck, said a source, became uneasy with Olbermann in attendance at the 3 p.m., closed-set rehearsal.

But Olbermann, through a spokesman, was complimentary on his first time being mocked on “SNL” — a position his MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews has been in over the years.

“I’m not Sarah Palin,” Olbermann said. “I know how valuable it is to me. And it’s funny.”

Olbermann also mentioned that the skit is planned on Coutdown tonight and did not sound offended. As a television performer, he probably sees some value in being treated as an icon on SNL, even if mocked.

Doonesbury Calls It For Obama

Garry Trudeau has already submitted the Doonesbury comics for next week and has reported a victory for Barack Obama. The news comes in Wednesdays strip which shows soldiers in Iraq sitting around a television set when Obama is announced as the winner. He explained to The Washington Post:

“Nate Silver at Fivethirtyeight.com is now giving McCain a 3.7% chance of winning — pretty comfortable odds. … Here’s the way I look at it: If Obama wins, I’m in the flow and commenting on a phenomenon. If he loses, it’ll be a massive upset, and the goofy misprediction of a comic strip will be pretty much lost in the uproar.  I figure I can survive a little egg on my face.”

Just in case, newspapers which do not want to run the strip should McCain win have also been supplied with old strips to rerun.

Sarah Palin’s Orwellian View of the First Amendment

We’ve long feared that many conservatives fail to understand that the Bill of Rights contains more than the Second Amendment. Sarah Palin provides evidence of this with an Orwellian interpretation of the First Amendment. We already knew that many conservatives fail to respect the First Amendment with regards to separation of church and state as intended by the founding fathers. Political Radar shows that Sarah Palin also extends conservative hostility to First Amendment rights to freedom of the press:

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks.  Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

The First Amendment was written to protect people and the press from the government, not to protect those in government from criticism by the press. Sarah Palin’s right to free speech so that she can practice McCarthyism in her attacks against Barack Obama is protected by the First Amendment, along with the media’s right to criticize Palin for practicing McCarthyism.

Incidentally, someone should also inform Sarah Palin that her attempts to practice censorship in Wasilla (here and here) were a violation of the First Amendment.

Reagan Chief of Staff Endorses Obama

Another Republican endorsement for Obama has been announced. CNN reports that Ken Duberstein, former chief of staff to Ronald Reagan, is backing Obama:

Duberstein said he was influenced by another prominent Reagan official – Colin Powell – in his decision.

“Well let’s put it this way – I think Colin Powell’s decision is in fact the good housekeeping seal of approval on Barack Obama.”

Powell served as national security advisor to Reagan during Duberstein’s tenure as chief of staff.

I’ve recently noted members of Barry Goldwater’s family who are backing Obama. Now some members of the Reagan administration are joining in. Increasingly Obama is becoming the candidate of serious Republicans as well as Democrats and independents, leaving the extreme right backing John McCain. Pete Abel, a conservative writing at The Moderate Voice, has compiled a partial list of prominent Republicans who support Obama:

Susan Eisenhower, Christopher Buckley, Alison Goldwater Ross, C.C. Goldwater, Francis Fukuyama, Larry Hunter, William Weld, David Friedman, Charles Fried, Arne Carlson, Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, Wayne Gilchrest, Jim Leach, Lincoln Chafee, Lowell Weicker, Linwood Holton, Jim Whitaker, Bill Ruckelshaus, Dennis Sanders, Larry Pressler, Charles Mathias Jr.

John McCain to Appear on Saturday Night Live

On Wednesday I noted that Seth Meyers, appearing on Fresh Air, stated that both candidates had an open invitation to appear on Saturday Night Live. There had been rumors that Barack Obama was going to be on the show, but Meyers thought Obama might be too busy to appear. Marc Ambinder states today that John McCain will be appearing this Saturday.

Putting aside politics and looking purely at entertainment value, McCain has done better than most politicians who have appeared on the show. While Sarah Palin’s recent appearance was disappointing as she only had a minimal role in the two skits she appeared in (videos here), McCain has had some entertaining skits in the past. Back in 2002 he appeared in a skit as a creepy husband (video here). McCain also performed a humorous skit on Weekend Update in May in which he urged Democrats not to make a decision on the nominee too soon. Here is that video:

McCain has also been satarized many times on SNL. Among the more memorable skits during this year’s campaign have been parody of his dishonest ads (video here) and Will Farrell playing Geroge Bush endorsing McCain (video here).

Reminder, Moms for Obama Nationally Rally Day Coming Soon

Here’s a reminder of a previous item: Saturday, November 1, 2008 will be Moms for Obama Nationally Rally Day:

Women and men across America are signing up by the hundreds to plan and participate in organized rallies as a show of support for Senator Barack Obama days before Election Day. Moms for Obama, a national grassroots group on my.barackobama.com, are coordinating the event, billed as “MOMS FOR OBAMA NATIONAL RALLY DAY” by its organizers.

On Saturday, November 1, at 12:00 pm PST (3:00 pm EST), on the same day, at the same hour all across America, mothers, fathers, grandparents and their children will participate in marches and rallies. This event is for women to have their voices heard in their community. Moms for Obama believe that a nationwide rally across America is a tremendous opportunity for mothers and families to gather and share their concern for all of our children. As well as to demonstrate to the American people that mothers will be out in force on Election Day and we will be supporting the Democratic ticket of Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden.