On One Hand

February 29, 2008

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February 28, 2008

Presidential Match-ups

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To win in the general election, a Democratic presidential candidate has to take two of three crucial swing-states, they say; those states are Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Hillary Clinton supporters would want to point that out more than anyone, since, while Barack Obama does much better overall against John McCain in hypothetical matching polls (winning 48-43 while Clinton loses 44-47), Hillary Clinton is doing better than Obama against McCain in two of those crucial states – Florida, and Pennsylvania.

But that seems to conveniently ignore one fact about how the Barack Obama campaign has worked in Florida and Pennsylvania. Obama is the unknown, and repeatedly does poorly in a state until he shows up, after which point he surges ahead of Clinton in the Democratic Primary and in general appeal. Coincidentally, Florida and Pennsylvania are the exact two states that Barack Obama has never campaigned in.

Clinton loses to McCain in those states too, according to many polls, but unlike Obama, she doesn’t have the same kind of momentum appeal that Obama has; they’ve known Hillary for years across the country, so she would have to fight much harder to boost her favor. She has a “glass ceiling,” so to speak, which coincides with her unfavorability rating in any given state. Since her “likeability” in polls is not much more than 50 percent overall, it’s unlikely she will get votes exceeding that, because it would mean getting votes from people whose attitude toward her is unfavorable.

Meanwhile, the argument ignores another powerfully important fact involving states like Colorado, Missouri, and Michigan, where Obama is favored to beat McCain (by huge margins) while Clinton is not (she loses by big margins). The truth is that a landslide of small states tip for the Democrats with Barack Obama as leading candidate.

The updated polls at PresidentElectionPolls.com currently show Barack Obama with a 277 to 250 electoral delegate lead against McCain among all polled states; that is, without winning in Florida, Pennsylvania or Ohio. He also loses in Virginia by that count, though Virginia is one state where high turnout among African Americans could tip the balance in his favor. Meanwhile, Clinton loses in electoral delegates by 211 to 271. It’s true that she could come ahead and close that gap a little, but it also seems true that Obama is a safer bet for a Democrat winning against John McCain.

Especially considering how Barack Obama could come back in Florida and Pennsylvania when he finally gets on the ground there.

February 27, 2008

Anyone’s guess

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:30 am
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Here’s my prediction for the Democratic nomination. I made as Wisconsin voted, and since things seem to be shaping up as such so far, I’ll go out on a limb and say this is what I expect.

Barack Obama will win Texas by a comfortable margin. Hillary Clinton will win Ohio by a slight margin, so while their delegates from Ohio will be virtually the same, Obama will widen his lead because of the Texas delegates.

Hillary Clinton will drop out of the race in the morning of March 5. Barack will make a tremendous speech about how she didn’t just “break through the glass ceiling for women in politics, she shattered it, and there isn’t a twelve-year-old girl in America who doesn’t beleive that she, too, can be the president of the United States thanks to what Hillary Clinton has done.” Clinton will praise and endorse Barack Obama and everyone will thank her for being in the race.

Obama will make the speech again at the convention in Denver this September. He will add that there will be a woman president in the 21st century and that there will be more than one woman president in the 21st century. He will not nominate Hillary Clinton for the vice presidency (and she doesn’t even want it anyway); he will find a white man about a decade older than him with a strong military background.

It will take about a week and a half for Hillary Clinton supporters to start liking Barack Obama and focus their criticism instead on John McCain. There will be an initial spurt of anti-Obama talk but it will dry up within a couple days. Obama will be a popular president. Four years and eight years from now, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of young elected women across the country, and a less dramatic but still notable increase in the number of young elected African-Americans.

I beleive this is the trajectory we are on now; obviously a minor change can drastically move that trajectory as time goes on, and I certainly cannot predict a future speech word for word. But for now I can say that things are looking pretty firm for Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States, and he will lead one of the most diverse presidential cabinets in recent history.

February 24, 2008

Academy Awards

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Is it just me, or was the first soldier on video conference from Iraq who read the first Oscar-nominated short documentary just a liiiiiitle bit flamboyant?

For a military guy, no less. It’s “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but those who are familiar with the policy know the military has sneaky ways of getting people to out themselves so they can be discharged. That being so, we can be sure they’re pretty desperate to keep people enlisted right now if they let that guy get through without something coming up. I am told that the big part of the reason why the military insists on excluding gays is for it’s image; they don’t want to turn away conservative men who are most likely to join, and they want to hold up their long-held reputation of being a man’s man’s institution. But how does it effect the military’s buff-and-burly image when they advertise someone so overtly flamboyant in the most public way possible?

This irony is compounded by the fact that the film that the young soldier announced, which ultimately won, was about a lesbian police lieutenant who was dying of cancer and wanted to leave her pension to her partner, but was not allowed to because the two were not legally married.

I don’t follow Hollywood, but Jon Stewart is hilarious and I heard he would be hosting the event, so I had to see how he does this thing. But two hours into it, I can say that Hollywood has gone downhill.

But Jon Stewart looks so much like my dad that it’s creepy. Their voices are somewhat similar as well.

I’m wondering if there is always a montage highlighting several dozen past winners of any given award before announcing who won this year. I’m hoping the presence of the montages in this year’s presentation is just a product of this year’s writer’s strike, and not an indication that Hollywood – which represents America to half the world – has really gotten this cheezy.

The intro to the whole show was like a ride at Universal Studios. That is what a friend told me about his take on the 3-minute computer-generated animation, and his definition was better than mine. What I had said previously was that it was exactly what I would have produced if someone had asked me to produce an intro for the Academy Awards when I was 8 years old.

Does anybody know what the little gold statuette of a naked man holding a sword has to do with movies?

Micael Moore did not win this year; he hasn’t won anything since his controversial speech in 2003 after receiving an award for Bowling for Columbine, and probably won’t win again after that controversy. The winning full-length documentary was about a 22-year-old Afghani man beaten to death by American soldiers while being held without charge. Discovery Channel and HBO bought the rights to show the film but neither plans to show it until 2009, after George W. Bush, whose policies on torture are criticized in the film, has left office.

February 21, 2008

My Short List

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:41 pm

After I graduate in May my job takes a break for 3 months; it won’t start again until August.

I do want to come back to Boulder for another year after that, but I need to do something crazy while I’m young and have an ounce of recklessness left in me. I’m thinking of moving somewhere random from June through August and trying to get some freelance writing in. Not being home and therefore not being able to fall into habitual laziness ensures that I will be productive. Since it’s summer and I plan on staying in the Northern Hemisphere, I will not have to sleep in snow if a worst-case scenario leaves me without a place to stay. It will be an adventure.

I am still working on a feasability study. Here is my short list of cities:

1. Seattle

2. New York City (too expensive)

3. London (too expensive)

4. Chicago

5. San Francisco (too expensive)

6. Portland

February 18, 2008

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February 15, 2008

Wisconsin polls begin to shift

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On February 7, Hillary Clinton was showing a nine point lead over Democratic opponent Barack Obama in Wisconsin, which is to hold its Democratic primary on February 19. In just four days from that poll, the balance shifted, giving Obama a four point lead at 47 to 43 percent of likely Wisconsin votes. As much as the media like to overplay the idea of “momentum,” it seems to be the case here in favor of Barack, as Democrats grow increasingly anxious about a drawn-out nomination process and increasingly anxious about Hillary Clinton’s low favorability ratings against Republican opponent John McCain.

After Wisconsin votes, there won’t be another contest until March 4, which top Democrats are hoping will be the end of the tense nomination race. Electoral giants Ohio and Texas – the second and seventh most populous states in the country – will weigh in to either close the deal for Barack Obama or ensure that the contest almost definitely continues until November by favoring Hillary Clinton.

It is a common threat in partisan politics to say that if your own guy loses the nomination, you’ll vote for the other party. Both Hillary’s supporters and Obama’s supporters are doing it, as are Republicans who currently loathe John McCain. But the reality is that almost everyone involved enough in politics to be so passionate about their candidate as to threaten the other comes home to the base in the general election, regardless of what they’re saying now. The real emphasis is on those voters who aren’t interested enough to vote in the primary, but just may be encouraged to turn out in higher numbers if a likeable candidate gets the nomination.

On the Republican side, John McCain won’t bring out high turnout among Evangelicals and Confederate-flag donning conservatives, but he may still have been the best Republican to choose from since moderates will be eager to support someone who seems nonpartisan and fresh. On the Democratic side, Barack Obama is by far the most favorable candidate to go for, as he has proven, time and time again, to bring out higher-than-expected levels of turnout among young liberals and simultaneously appeal to independent-minded moderates. Clinton, meanwhile, seems to mobilize the groups we least want to see in action – the Evangelicals who are sitting on their hands refusing to rally for John McCain.

Texas and Ohio are establishment states, and are also places where blue-collar (more socially conservative) workers dominate the Democratic party. That’s going to be a tough sell for Obama, especially as Hillary’s campaign wrenches in what it sees to be its own death throes and hurls scathing insults at the opponent. The more destructive to November’s cause Democrats perceive the fight to be, the more they will tip for Obama, both because they want to see the contest resolved soon and because they would get angry at the Clintons for putting the general election in jeapordy for the sake of the nomination.

All of that is old news to anyone who follows politics, but it will be interesting to see where Texas and Ohio go after Wisconsin votes. My guess is that the more anxious Democrats are about electability, the more they will tip for Obama, partially because he is in the lead and offers an easy promise to wrap up the race, and partially because Democrats know they need his camp’s enthusiasm. Aside from that, poll after poll shows him beating McCain in the general election, and nobody (except the press) wants to see this contest turn to another nailbiter like 2000 and 2004. Obama already has the vote of the passionate idealists in the party; if his case can appeal to the pragmatists as well, expect to see the first African American president assume office in January 2009.

February 14, 2008

Protected: It’s Valentine’s Day

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February 12, 2008

Barack Obama Wins Big in DC Area

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In just under a year of campaigning, Barack Obama has come a long way.

A few of us may remember his very first campaign slogan, or even pre-campaign slogan developed when Clinton was spoken of of as the obvious Democratic nominee and opposing her was thought of as defiance of the party establishment. “Don’t tell mama, I’m for Obama,” came out on t-shirts and bumper stickers on websites like draftobama.com.

You could say that the Barack Obama campain rhetoric has improved quite a bit, since then.

Now Obama is poised to win the Democratic nomination; Hillary would need 55 percent of all future delegates to break even, so even a narrow win in upcoming states would not be enough for her. Until now her ceiling has been 51-52 percent in most states (she won by a wider margin in Oklahoma and Arkansas) which she is not likely to exceed anywhere except Texas. Though Texas is a huge state that does slightly favor Clinton, a 55 percent win there with a loss in other states won’t cut it; Clinton has to score consistenly high from now until April if she wants to be the nominee.

Obama has begun to gain support where he was previously lacking, among demographics that are extremely important in a general election. They are Hispanics, Roman Catholics, and – here’s the kicker – white men – who tipped for him by a narrow margin in Maryland and Virginia, a first for Southern or border states. White men have historically been the least likely to go for any candidate that represents diversity – be that a black man, a hispanic man, or a woman – and lately have been the least likely to vote for any Democrat in a presidential election. For some reason states that have a lot of black people tend to have a polarized Democratic electorate, with whites going for Clinton and blacks going for Obama – so in that case, being female didn’t cost Clinton quite as much as Obama was hurt by being black. Virginia and Maryland are the first Southern states to see the white male gap significantly narrow, and are demographically similar to the nation as a whole.

This electoral growth represents the farthest reach for any Democrat. Women and Hispanics are likely Democratic voters in any situation, but white men, especially those who are independent or moderate, are most likely to flock to John McCain and most necessary constituents for anyone who will go on to fight in the general election. The nominee needs to stop a landslide of white men towards McCain to stand any chance of winning in November.

If Obama is goign to be the nominee, he’s going to have to pick a vice presidential candidate that improves his credentials in one of two areas; military policy, and the economy. A perfect choice for the appeal on economic issues would be Hillary Clinton, who voters connect to the unbroken economic marathon of the Bill Clinton presidency in the 1990s. But Obama might be able to win with those concerned with economic issues through rhetoric as well as he would through a vice presidential candidate; all he needs to do is talk about basic Democratic Party platforms like building the middle class, re-negotiating free trade, building American infrastructure and raising the minimum wage. Nobody will doubt his willingness or his ability to fight hard for those issues.

Instead, Obama is best to pick someone with strong military credentials, like Wesley Clark or even Joe Biden, because that’s where he is weakest. Wesley Clark would be especially an especially meaningful vice presidential pick since his military credentials surpass even those of John McCain, and the ticket would also be seen as a gracious outreach to the Clinton camp from Barack Obama. If General Clark were to accept the offer, the Democratic ticket would be nearly unstopable this fall.

That strategy would be to hit Republicans on where they are strong rather than where they are weak. John McCain is strong with independends – just as Obama is – and strong on military credentials just like Wesley Clark.

The choice would have to be explained graciously to Clinton’s supporters, who expect either nominee to select the other as the vice presidential choice. Obama’s team would have to argue that electability is a concern, and the convention in Denver would have to be anchored with a speech from Obama that showers Clinton with praise for breaking the glass ceiling for all women.

Nobody will do as well as Hillary did in gathering surging support among women. But it may be that with Clinton, the huge rally among women wouldn’t cancel out the negatives she faces against white men. Be they for sexist reasons or not (I say that to some extent they are), white men just don’t like what they see in Hillary Clinton.

I try not to be too overt in taking sides here, but I can’t deny that Obama seems to be the most winnable candidate by no small margin, and his presidency could be an incredible thing for American interests politics. If he picks the right veep for a balanced ticket, Democrats could breathe as easy as they would if Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee had been the Republican nominee.

February 10, 2008

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