With Less Than 2 Days Until The Election


Nate Silver at 538:

This is beginning to look like a five-state election. Those states are Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada. Essentially all relevant electoral scenarios involve some combination of these five states.

I should caution that by far the most likely scenario is that Obama wins some relatively decisive victory of anywhere from 3-12 points in the popular vote. If Obama wins the popular vote by anything in this range, he will find plenty of blue territory, accumulating somewhere between 300-400 electoral votes. The electoral math will matter very little.

We can probably assume, however, that IF the national polls tighten significantly (and to reiterate, the likelihood is that they will NOT), McCain will edge out a victory in North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Georgia, and Missouri; put those states in the McCain column for the time being. Likewise, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa all appear safe for Obama, even in the case of significant tightening. Put those in the Obama column.

That leaves our five states in play. The victory conditions for Obama involving these five states proceed something as follows:

1. Win Pennsylvania and ANY ONE of Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, or Nevada*
2. Win Ohio and EITHER Colorado OR Virginia.
3. Win Colorado AND Virginia AND Nevada.

So, if you live in any of these states or live nearby or can phone bank, help get out the Democratic vote.  For that matter, if you live in  North Carolina, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana, Georgia, or Missouri, help get out the Democratic vote.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Arab-Americans remain at the margins of US politics

Justin Vogt in The National:

BildeDuring his pitch, Bob Straniere, a Republican congressional candidate, made a rather cursory mention of his support for John McCain. A young man sporting ultra-hip jeans and heavily gelled hair raised his hand, and aired his distaste for McCain’s recent statements at a campaign rally in Minnesota. When a supporter there told McCain, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not… he’s an Arab,” the candidate took back the microphone and said ““No, ma’am. He’s a decent family-man citizen.”

“Why,” the young questioner asked Straniere, “would you support a person who would respond in such an unfavourable way to the community?”

A sustained round of applause swallowed the young man’s final words, and all eyes turned to Straniere, waiting to see if he would affirm that he believed Arabs could be decent family men. “You know, we all work very hard, we campaign very hard, and sometimes, your mouth goes faster than your brain,” he said through a stiff smile. Besides, Straniere declared, McCain hadn’t been his first choice – “Rudy Giuliani was!”

This did not quite suffice, and the crowd let Straniere know it with a chorus of boos.

The young man sat down, frowning and rolling his eyes. A woman sitting nearby muttered, “They don’t get it.”

More here.

Racists for Obama

Ruchira Paul in Accidental Blogger:

Screenhunter_09_nov_01_2005Repentant Bush supporter Andrew Sullivan is deliriously happy at the prospect of a possible Obama presidency which he believes will end identity politics in America. I think his optimism is premature in this regard. People are good at compartmentalizing opposing public and personal views and not recognizing their own hypocrisies. Those of us who grew up in countries where rigid identity politics (religion, caste, gender) is the norm, know that sometimes voters can indeed eschew prejudice in politics without revising broader cultural attitudes. Just because a male chauvinist votes for a female head of state or a casteist elects a candidate from a lower caste, doesn’t mean the end of other personal predilections. Think Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto and the status of the majority of women in India and Pakistan. In these turbulent times, out of self interest, a white racist may very well vote for a black candidate who appears to be more competent than his opponent. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the US is going to be transformed into a cheerful Rainbow Coalition if Senator Obama becomes president. In any case, we don’t for sure know who will be the winner next Tuesday. We have to wait and see if Obama will become the victim of the Bradley effect or the beneficiary of the pragmatist racist vote.

More here.

make some calls


The Obama website has an extremely well designed call center that allows you to pick the state you’d like to call and then start talking to potential voters. After the first couple of calls it becomes quite easy and even kind of fun to do. My salty wife, the formidable Timothy Don and I called people in Ohio all day last Sunday. All three of us ended up having some remarkable conversations. It is also notable that the Obama campaign has such trust in people that it allows this to happen. It is good. Do it.

Click here to start calling (have one martini, but NOT two, to get yourself started).

the audacity of despair


When I was a little boy in my hometown of Hopeless, Arkansas, my daddy once said to me, “If you ever feel like giving up, remember that it’s the easy way out, and, in the majority of instances, makes the most rational sense on a strictly cost-benefit basis.” His words echo in my mind whenever I encounter a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, such as a rack with six consonants to kick off a game of Scrabulous. I’ve since committed them to a poster that hangs over the crib of my son, Eeyore, although, given the state of education and the hegemony of visual media, he’ll probably never learn to read sentences with clauses.

The next president faces a host of critical challenges; he must listen to all viewpoints, carefully weigh his choices, then decisively curl into a fetal position once he realizes that eventually we all die alone anyway, so what’s the point?

We’re all tired of reading about the violence in Iraq over our morning cocktail of an increasingly-ineffective-SSRI-and-vodka. I have formulated the only sensible approach: stop writing about the violence in Iraq.

more from McSweeney’s here.

College Newspapers Back Obama, 63 to 1

Dexter Hill at Editor & Publisher:

The Obama campaign leads by better than 2-1 in newspaper endorsements from dailies and weeklies, based on our tally so far. But the Democratic ticket has an even more impressive lead when it comes to college newspapers — 63 to 1, according to UWIRE’s Presidential Endorsement Scorecard (we have been providing a partial tabulation).

Here is the latest count.

For more on the media and the campaign go to our new blog:

The E&P Pub

Screenhunter_08_nov_01_1355JOHN McCAIN (1)
Daily Mississippian, U. Mississippi

The Amherst Student, Amherst College
The Optimist, Abilene Christian U.
The Bates Student, Bates College
The Justice, Brandeis University
The Orient, Bowdoin College
The Orion, California State U.-Chico
Central Michigan Life, Central Michigan U.
The Flat Hat, College of William and Mary
Columbia Daily Spectator, Columbia U.
Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell U.
The Davidsonian, Davidson College
The Chronicle, Duke U.
Daily Eastern News, Eastern Illinois U.
The Et Cetera, Eastfield College
The Berkeley Beacon, Emerson College
El Vaquero, Glendale Community College
The Crimson, Harvard University
Indiana Daily Student, Indiana U.
Iowa State Daily, Iowa State U.
Daily Kent Stater, Kent State U.
The Parthenon, Marshall U.
The Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Miami Student, Miami U.
The State News, Michigan State U.
The Middlebury Campus, Middlebury College
Northern Star, Northern Illinois U.
Daily Northwestern, Northwestern U.
The Post, Ohio U.
The University News, Saint Louis U.
The Point News, St. Mary’s College
The Rocket, Slippery Rock U.
The Daily Campus, Southern Methodist U.
The Reporter, Stetson University
Pipe Dream, SUNY-Binghamton
The Lamron, SUNY-Geneseo
The Phoenix, Swarthmore College
Tufts Daily, Tufts U.
Arizona Daily Wildcat, U. Arizona
Daily Californian, UC-Berkeley
New University, UC-Irvine
Daily Bruin, UCLA
The Daily Nexus, UC-Santa Barbara
Central Florida Future, U. Central Florida
Daily Illini, U. Illinois
University Daily Kansan, U. Kansas
The Louisville Cardinal, U. Louisville
The Michigan Daily, U. Michigan
The Michigan Journal, U. Michigan-Dearborn
Minnesota Daily, U. Minnesota
The Maneater, U. Missouri
Oklahoma Daily, U. Oklahoma
The Daily Pennsylvanian. U. Pennsylvania
The Pitt News. U. Pittsburgh
The Daily Gamecock, U. South Carolina
Badger Herald, U. Wisconsin
The Daily Cardinal, U. Wisconsin
Advance-Titan, U. Wisconsin-Oshkosh
The Pacer, U. Tennessee-Martin
Daily Texan. U. Texas
The Independent Collegian, U. Toledo
Daily Evergreen, Washington State U.
The Voice, Washtenaw Community College
The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia U.

McCain Spokesman Wusses Out On CNN

Jason Linkins at The Huffington Post:

Oh, dear. Michael Goldfarb, who’s clearly better off blogging about ABBA and criticizing people for playing Dungeons and Dragons, just pooped his pants on national television. The McCain campaign is making a last ditch effort to make SCARY MUSLIM NOISES at Barack Obama, and since Goldfarb doesn’t have any sort of reputation worth salvaging, it figures that he’d be doing duty here.

But CNN’s Rick Sanchez calls Goldfarb out for the hypocrisy of hyping a sinister connection between Obama and a guy that McCain funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to, and from there, Goldfarb goes right off the rails, refusing to answer Sanchez’s questions with anything other than intimations. Repeatedly asked to name a second anti-Semite that Obama allegedly “pals around with,” Goldfarb does nothing but issue hollow, Page Six-style intimations.

What a gutless wonder. And here I’d been led to believe that this campaign took its cues from some kind of war hero.

Saturday Poem


I’m Climbing You
Erica Jong

I want to understand the steep thing

that climbs ladders in your throat.

I can’t make sense of you.

Everywhere I look you’re there–

a vast landmark, a volcano

poking its head through the clouds,

Gulliver sprawled across Lilliput.

I climb into your eyes, looking.

The pupils are black painted stage flats.

They can be pulled down like window shades.

I switch on a light in your iris.

Your brain ticks like a bomb.

In your offhand, mocking way

you’ve invited me into your chest.

Inside: the blur that poses as your heart.

I’m supposed to go in with a torch

or maybe hot water bottles

& defrost it by hand

as one defrosts an old refrigerator.

It will shudder & sigh

(the icebox to the insomniac).

Oh there’s nothing like love between us.

You’re the mountain, I am climbing you.

If I fall, you won’t be all to blame,

but you’ll wait years maybe
for the next doomed expedition.

American Idol, gladiators, and audience participation

Stefany Anne Golberg in The Wonderful World of Stefany Anne Golberg:

A response to Morgan Meis’ ‘Idolotry’ (The Smart Set, February 2008)

Screenhunter_07_nov_01_1250People in the United States sure seem excited about voting these days. This excitement has even led to some pontifications about a renewed collective enthusiasm, a bolstered civic pride, even an actual increase in voter participation. A recent conversation about the matter with a group of acquaintances led to a discussion about, naturally, American Idol. A married couple was marveling at the enthusiasm with which their not-yet-legal-voting-age teenage child and her friends voted for American Idol contestants, at the investment they had in the show’s performers and, indeed, the whole voting process. They felt as though they were participants, and that by watching American Idol and voting for their favorite contestants, they were included in a larger community of spectators who, in acting together as a community, became co-authors of their own entertainment.

Before recorded technology allowed time-based arts to be at the complete control of the producer, performance was often just a crapshoot. You had your concept, your score, your well-rehearsed cast, but once presented in a live setting, you also had an ingredient that was not necessarily part of the script: your audience.

More here.  Also, Stefany reminds us: Yes On Prop 2!  Do check it out.

When the Right Look Trumps the Right Stuff

From Science:

Palin Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin received a media lashing last week when word trickled out that her makeup artist snagged $22,800 in the first half of October. Pundits warned that such royal treatment might undermine her “down home” persona, but the makeover may have been a savvy move: New research adds more weight to the idea that voters value attractiveness more than competence in the faces of female politicians. The idea that candidates can win or lose votes on the basis of looks is not new. A previous study of U.S. Senate and House of Representative elections showed that candidates whose faces were judged “more competent” than their opponents’ won the elections between 66% and 74% of the time. But that study did not consider the impact of the candidate’s gender on the relative importance of appearances, says Joan Chiao, a social neuroscientist at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

Chiao and her colleagues decided to investigate the role of gender. They compiled headshots of 46 women and 60 men who in 2006 ran for seats in the House of Representatives. The photos were grayscaled to minimize the effect of hair and clothing color, and highly recognizable candidates, such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, were not included. A group of 73 test subjects, 38 of them women, viewed each face for 1 second and then noted how attractive, how competent, how dominant, or how approachable they found the candidates. Then, they viewed pairs of candidates from the 106-member set and had to indicate for which candidate they would vote in a hypothetical presidential election.

Male and female voters tended to like the same traits. Perceived competence predicted wins by both male and female candidates. But for female candidates, attractiveness was an even more important predictor of success. Good looks were not a significant factor for men, the researchers report this week in PLoS ONE. The biggest difference between male and female voters was in how much they valued approachability. For male candidates, perceived approachability had a significant impact on how likely female but not male voters were to cast ballots in their favor. Chiao says the results indicate that the “halo effect,” the idea that prettier people may be judged as more capable or having other positive traits, only applies to female politicians: “It reveals a gender bias and the importance of attractiveness for female candidates to succeed in elections.”

More here.

How to Read Like a President

From The New York Times:

Book_2 McCain and Obama are so different in so many ways, but they do share one thing: a kind of tragic sensibility. Judging from the books they cite as most important, they embrace hope but recognize the reality that life is unlikely to conform to our wishes. They mention Shakespeare’s tragedies, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and David Halberstam’s “Best and the Brightest.” Like Robert Jordan, they want to make things better and are willing to put themselves in the arena, but they know that nothing is perfectible and that progress is provisional. Things fall apart; plans fail; planes are shot out of the sky. Their attraction to Hemingway suggests a willingness to acknowledge unpleasant facts not always found in those who enter elective politics.

When I asked him by e-mail to send a list of books and writers that were most significant to him, Obama offered American standards: The Federalist, Jefferson, Emerson, Lincoln, Twain, W. E. B. Du Bois’s “Souls of Black Folk,” King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.” Among writers from abroad, he singles out Graham Greene (“The Power and the Glory” and “The Quiet American”), Doris Lessing (“The Golden Notebook”), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “Cancer Ward” and Gandhi’s auto­biography. In theology and philosophy Obama mentioned Nietzsche, Niebuhr and Tillich — writers consistent with his acknowledgment that while life is bleak, it is not hopeless.

More here.