On One Hand

August 10, 2010

Why President Obama is Going to Be OK

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:08 pm
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This is a short post, but I wanted to point something out that is quite important nowadays amidst howling opposition to President Obama and the perception, true or false, that our country as a whole has lurched to the Right.

First, some key statistics from Open Left:

In 2008, according to exit polls, 89% self-identified liberals voted for President Obama. Over the past four weeks, according to Gallup, President Obama’s approval rating among self-identified liberals has averaged 74%. That is a decline of 15 points.

In 2008, according to exit polls, 60% of self-identified moderates voted for President Obama. Over the past four weeks, according to Gallup, President Obama’s approval rating among self-identified moderates has averaged 54%. That is a decline of 6 points.

In 2008, according to exit polls, 20% of self-identified conservatives voted for President Obama. Over the past four weeks, according to Gallup, President Obama’s approval rating has averaged 24% among self-identified conservatives. That is an increase of 4 points.

President Obama got 53 percent of the vote in November 2008. His approval ratings are now about seven points lower, meaning that around fourteen percent of those who voted for Barack Obama are now claiming to “disapprove” of the President’s performance today (because 14 percent of 50 percent is 7 percent of the whole sample).

Some of that deficit has come from a drop in support among moderates. A lot of that deficit has come from discontent among liberals and progressives.

That doesn’t mean Democrats are not in trouble in the midterms: because young people and poor people often think midterms are too unimportant to vote in them, or they’re too busy with other issues in their lives, much of the Democratic base is gone, which is always a major boost to Republicans. Democrats tend to do poorly in midterm elections, especially when their party is in charge.

But it does mean that, things looking as they are now, the President will easily be able to shore up his support in 2008 against a Republican opponent. Progressives who think Obama hasn’t done enough for them aren’t going to turn and vote for Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney.

Of course, the numbers that Gallup found and Open Left reported are a bit misleading when some “moderates” have switched to defining themselves as conservative, and some “liberals” have switched to defining themselves as moderate, since the election. As I have pointed out many times before, Americans are devils’ advocates and lovers of balance, and position themselves in contrast to whatever they see as the most powerful party. Still, one thing that is definitely true is that the numbers for Obama are not as bad as they seem.

Anti-Obama conservatives are numerous, are certainly loud, and they have grown in prominence and attention-getting ability since the 2008 election. But they aren’t more numerous than they were in 2008. Ask a few of Barack Obama’s most vehement opponents who they voted for in 2008: it almost certainly wasn’t Barack Obama, and the president will do just fine if only the people who voted for him in 2008 vote for him again in 2012. All things considered, when he comes head-to-head with a Republican candidate he will still have their support.


January 28, 2010

Obama’s First State of the Union Address: A Great Start for 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 1:13 am
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If you are viewing this entry from Facebook, click “view original post” at bottom of the page to see the poll as it is included on livejournal.

It’s late and I won’t say much about the State of the Union right now, but my first impression is that I’m pretty pleased with President Obama’s performance, and eager to see how it will play out in the polls over the next few weeks. The president sounded conciliatory but tough – a good balance for the public to see, but the president will have to be willing to play hardball with recalcitrant Democrats behind closed doors if he wants to get anything done in 2010. He’ll have to completely ignore Republicans and move on without them, which is, ironically, the best way to get them to turn around and cooperate when they see they have suddenly become irrelevant. A good resource for specific themes in this address is Tom Shaller on fivethirtyeight.com.

I think my favorite lines in the whole address were President Obama’s chastisement of Congress – he spoke of the Senate in particular, and he did not spare Democrats his frustration, which is good when the American public is similarly frustrated with Democrats. He repeatedly pointed out that the House already passed items on his agenda, but the Senate – where Democratic majorities are stronger – has failed to move on practically anything, which is partially due to Republican obstructionism and more to do with Democrats being hesitant and ineffective.

But President Obama directly addressed Republicans, too, by mentioning that if they are going to use their meager 40 seats in the Senate as some kind of mandate, then they are part of the government too and need to take ownership of the country. By this point Republicans had already heckled the president – condescendingly and, in my opinon, in a way that was not fitting of the event – and needed to be told off. He could have been harsher in those cases, but I think he shamed them in a smooth way, and in any case maybe their rudeness will embolden President Obama into being less concilliatory himself.

I’ll be interested to see how the snickering and pouty faces Republicans made through most of the speech play in the media over the next few news cycles – they were so out-of-it that they didn’t even stand and clap when President Obama first mentioned cutting the capital gains tax for small businesses, which has been a Republican issue for ages.

Even moreso, I’ll be interested to see just how many points President Obama upticks in the polls after this – I expect it to be more than a couple but less than a complete game-changer (I expect to see him around 53 – he’ll get back the people who voted for him). I’m very pleased to see him taking ownership of the way the last year has gone and pleased to see exactly how he expresses his view of his mistakes and others’. Here’s to hoping the next few weeks are full of action and that a forceful White House can light a fire under congress to do something meaningful in 2010.

November 5, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 3:20 am
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September 25, 2008

In Defense of Patriotism

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:28 pm
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Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 40 years after the end of legal segregation and 5 years after the launch of the war in Iraq – a day when compassion and intelligence were reviled as dangerous ideas – could we be where we are today in American politics. A woman and a Black man – two unheard-ofs in the presidential level of politics – were in close contest to be one of the two major candidates for the nation’s highest office.

In 2008 I was intimately involved in electing Barack Obama president. The effort has embodied everything I love about this country.

In the spring, Michelle Obama made a comment that struck a chord with my deepest emotions toward our moment in history. She said that in the midst of her husband’s campaign, for the first time in her adult life, she feels really proud of her country. The crowd was on its feet in heartfelt applause and agreement.

Yet this surge in pride and joy of the American spirit – as abstract and elusive as that spirt is – was immediately under fire by her political opponents. They asked, why wasn’t Michelle Obama already proud of her country? Why is she only proud of America now?

We ask instead, why did she choose that language to describe a patriotism that is just as real for her as anyone – and why were those words used against her?

For too long we’ve let ourselves sink into a narrow-minde definition of what “America” is and where in it is our pride. We’ve let other people tell us that we are not patriots, or that we are not fully members of American society. We’ve responded to America defined as a specific set of policies and ideas that do not benefit everyone – and rejected the America embodied therein.

We were affected deeply by that rhetoric. That’s why we haven’t always “felt” patriotic all these years. The negative influence seeped into our minds until on some level we surrendered to the false claim that the policies and ideas we oppose are somehow really the heart and soul of this nation – and that something must be fundementally wrong with our culture as a whole for enacting them.

The year 2008 reminded me where the America I love lay hidden. It wasn’t that we weren’t patriotic, it’s that the kind of stuff we feel patriotic about was pushed to the sidelines. We have someone who, rhetorically and intellectually, espouses the beleif that America is for everyone and everyone is for America. The tone of the Obama campaign summed it up – insisting that the America we love was America all along, and therefore we have always loved America.

The America that I am proud of is full of faces that do not all look alike, dress alike or act alike. There are men and women, young and old, American Indians, Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, Middle Easterners, immigrants, natives, workers, students, pioneers, adventurers, teachers, doctors, priests, monks, imams and activists… you get where this is going.

Among them are heroes: people who lived, fought and died for the benefit of this nation both in the uniform and out. They are heroes like Martin Luther King Jr, like the freedom writers who were taunted and harrassed and beaten to give the decendents of America’s original sin, slavery, a chance at equality. Heroes like Abrahalm Lincoln, Robert Kennedy and John F. Kennedy who died because after making a choice to fight for those rights for others. Heroes like Harvey Milk, Ceasar Chavez, Dorothea Lynde Dix, Dorothy Day, Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Thumban who took great personal risk to lead others to freedom.

Among them are pioneers, inventors and entrepreneurs: people who worked hard to reach or discover something that would change the course of history. They settled the West and laid down the railroad, which marked the beginning of American economic dominance. They invented the lightbulb and developed the alternating current. Pioneers and entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Carl Sagan, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington Carver, Orville and Wilbur Wright and Albert Einstein.

Among them are historians, artists and thinkers: people who wove together the stories that define our self-identity. They are Walt Whitman, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ansel Adams, Zora Neale Hurston, Flannery O’Connor, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsburg, Georgia O’Keefe, Jackson Pollock and Billie Holiday.

I don’t see anything to indicate that one has to be a war hero to be fully “American,” or that one must be politically or socially conservative. Did those movements and narratives, recognizing the contribution of every person, suddenly subside under the Bush Administration, did they cease to exist on the day that American planes first showered bombs on Baghdad?

Or did we just forget that those stories are America, they are us and we are a part of them?

It is natural to lose affection for a culture or identity when one is told that he or she is not a true member of it. Blacks have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-ness. Catholics have not been treated as fully American and had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-ness. American Indians have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-Ness. Latinos have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear when defending their American-ness. Gay and lesbian Americans have not been treated as fully American and have had a higher hurdle to clear whne defending their American-Ness.

But I am nothing less that fully American, I love this country, I beleive its history and its struggles taps the depth of human history and conscienceness. I want this country to keep moving on that path. That makes me a patriot, and I accept the charge.

September 1, 2008

If Bristol Palin were a low-income black girl…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:55 pm
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I can’t count how many times I’ve heard white people attribute teen pregnancy rates among low-income African-Americans (and low-income people of all races) to irresponsibility, promiscuity or laziness – and say those people are living proof of the corruption of the welfare system.

But in less than a minute they’ll turn around for the pregnant 17-year-old daughter of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and say the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy speak highly of the Palin family.

So if Bristol Palin were a low-income black girl in high school…

If all it took to turn Right Wing America around is to have this happen to someone they like – someone they need to win, which marks the first time they’ve had the slightest desire to respect or understand someone who lives a different experience, then maybe there was a divine hand in John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin as VP after all. In a heartbeat America has apparently reversed its position on judgment and condescension toward people in a difficult situation and will instead shower praise and support.

Bristol Palin comes from a presently upper-class family (daughter of a governor and vice presidential nominee, no less) and her child will be well taken care of. She and the baby’s father will probably get to go to college in spite of her situation, her family will offer concern to make sure her daughter’s haphazard marriage has a fair shot at working out, she can count on her hospital bills being paid for, and she will be fed and clothed even if she and her fiance can’t get straight to full-time jobs with benefits when the baby is born. (I don’t suppose they’d advocate that the Palins dump their daughter on the streets and let her fend for herself and her child with a minimum-wage job as a way to live up to their ideals about “personal responsibility.”)

And it follows that, to be fair, Conservatives will finally want to fund programs that will offer low-income mothers similar care and support – which means more food stamps, subsidized day care, free healthcare, rent assistance and childcare counseling.


July 30, 2008

Voter Registration Poll

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:04 pm
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Before we get started, some facts about this election:

On July 27, a Gallup poll found that Barack Obama was ahead by three points among all registered voters, but John McCain was ahead by 4 points among those who Gallup considered most likely to vote.

Barack Obama is winning by a small margin in most polls of registered and likely voters, but wins by margins of 10 percent or more in polls that include all adults, registered or not.

Those most likely to skip voting on election day are young adults, African-Americans and other minority groups, and low-income voters.

Now, on to the poll:

OK, so here are the facts from the “Myths” section:

Jury duty pools don’t come from lists of registered voters in most states – it’s usually from lists of citizens with a driver’s liscense.

States have different laws about registering to vote as a felon; in Colorado, for example, you can vote if you have completed your sentence, even if you are still on probation (but not if you are on parole). Voters are often led to beleive that those with a criminal record can’t vote at all in order to suppress turnout among minority voters.

Low turnout almost always helps Republicans, high turnout almost always helps Democrats.

You can vote with several forms of ID, including, in some states, a utility bill to your current address with your name on it. In no state is a driver’s liscense specifically required if you have some other form of state ID.

The Supreme Court decided that college students can opt to vote in the state where they go to school – state initiatives there concerning tuition or education directly effect them. It’s perfectly acceptable to see which state is closer in a presidential election and vote there, or to vote in a state with downticket elections or ballot initiatives you consider more important.

Campaigns spend tremendous effort boosting voter turnout because it can make all the difference in a presidential campaign. For example, President Bush was less popular in 2004 than he was in 2000, but won by a greater margin because Evangelicals voted in higher numbers in 2004. Think about the fact that less than two thirds of all adults vote in presidential elections, and turnout rates are even lower among young voters and Black or Hispanic voters. If Democrats can get one tenth of their unlikely voters to turn out, it’s worth 3-4 points in the polls, which means it’s just as valuable as changing that many likely voters’ minds.

April 12, 2008

Democratic nomination poll!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:41 pm
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I haven’t written a Democratic nomination poll in a long time, so here goes:

March 22, 2008

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December 31, 2007

Enough already!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 8:36 pm

I’ve seen enough poll findings, online questionnaires, Facebook forums, and stupid comments about the ability of a black person, a “Muslim,” or a woman to be president of the United States. Here’s how I would like to see that question asked.

May 3, 2007

Polls twist Democratic Race

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 7:05 pm
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In nation wide hypothetical match-ups for the 2008 Presidential election, John McCain beats Hillary Clinton by a comfortable margin. Against Obama, the race is nearly tied, with Obama sometimes coming out ahead. The polls show both Hillary’s weaknesses and John McCain’s formidable popularity.

Giuliani generally beats Hillary too, and also beats Barack Obama, but by a smaller margin.

Republicans are not in love with either McCain or Giuliani, but if either man is chosen for the ’08 race, Hillary may not be the best Democrat to put forward in the general election. To do so could result in a Democratic loss in a scenario in which national and global events – including the unpopularity of George W. Bush and the perpetually exploding fireball of the Iraq war – should otherwise indicate a nearly-certain Democratic win.

McCain is thought of as a moderate, but his win would not be good for those with Democratic ideals. McCain maintains the foreign policy of the Bush administration and is more conservative than he appears to be. His image as an independent thinker, though, would make him nearly impossible to beat by front-running Democrats, putting the dems in a lose-lose situation.

If Giuliani were to win the Republican nomination, its implications for Democrats would be both positive and negative. First, Giuliani would be a tough candidate to beat on issues, since he is a moderate, and is thought of as a 9/11 hero. His Republican yet New Yorker status would appeal to independent voters and loyal Republican voters would still choose him. But since Giuliani is a social liberal, Evangelical voters might either stay home on election day or be persuadable by by the Democratic candidate. We might actually see a Democrat take over the South – especially if it’s John Edwards. But if Giuliani did win the presidency, Democrats would get Republican president they might actually agree with from time to time. The Evangelical vote may even be permanently split. Meanwhile Giulani’s rough manner and personal history would doom his presidency to unpopularity among the very conservatives and moderates who voted for him, which could lead to Democratic victories in congress and in future elections.

I’ve made a list of every hypothetical match that is likely to happen in 2008 with my own outcome predictions. My figures might favor Democrats, but the way I see it, the whole country favors Democrats right now.

My hypothetical match-ups

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