Palin with Couric– the gift that keeps on giving

The snippets from Palin's interview with Katie Couric just keep getting better.  Apparently, Palin reads “all of 'em” when it comes to the news sources she relies upon.

Along these lines, this website is awesome.

The Youth Vote

I can't say that anything I say here is particularly exciting, but this story that aired on our local NPR station this morning about the youth vote is pretty good.

About that Obama victory

TNR's John Judis sums up what we can extrapolate from early October polls (yeah, it's a day early):

By October first, presidential tracking polls begin to predict the winner in November accurately. Since 1960, Gallup's tracking poll
registered the winner in the popular vote (including Al Gore in 2000),
eleven of twelve times. The one exception is 1980, when Jimmy Carter
still led Ronald Reagan by 44 to 40 percent. The late September-early
October polls have not necessarily predicted the final margin. Third
party candidates usually screw up the total, because their support
usually drops by the final election, and generally the race narrows
somewhat by the end. In 1996, for instance, Bill Clinton led Bob Dole
by 14 percentage points on October first. Clinton?s  final
margin would be 8.5 percentage points. In 2004, George W. Bush led John
Kerry by 8 percentage points. His final margin would be only 2.4
points. But in six of these elections–1960, 1964, 1976, 1984, 1988 and
2000–the final margin was different from the October first polling
results by less than three percentage points. Given these results,
supporters of Barack Obama can take heart from the fact that he is
leading 50 to 42 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll.

The polls only have only even got better for Obama since Judis wrote this. 


Back to Palin

It has been too long since I've had fun at Sarah Palin's expense.  This week, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria unleashes on her, and by extension, McCain:

Will someone please put Sarah Palin
out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that
she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, “to spend
more time with her family”? Having stayed in purdah for weeks, she
finally agreed to a third interview. CBS's Katie Couric questioned her in her trademark sympathetic style. It didn't help. When asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded thus:

“It's
very important when you consider even national-security issues with
Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the
United States of America. Where?where do they go? It's Alaska.
It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those
out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful
nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to?to
our state.”

…This is
not an isolated example. Palin has been given a set of talking points
by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and
repeats as long as she can. (“We mustn't blink.”) But if forced off
those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly,
gibberish…

In these times, for John McCain
to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally
irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this
important case, it is simply not true.

In case you missed it, Tina Fey was back as Sarah Palin this week on SNL in a skit on the Katie Couric interview.  What is most funny, is they were actually able to use Sarah Palin's own words for laughs.  

Matt Yglesias highlights this quote from a portion not yet aired, which shows a breathtaking ignorance of Middle East politics.  To be running for Vice President and clearly not have a clue about Hamas…

KATIE COURIC: ?What happens if the goal of democracy
doesn?t produce the desired outcome? In Gaza, the U.S. pushed hard for
elections and Hamas won.?

SARAH PALIN: ?Yeah, well especially in that region, though, we have
to protect those who do seek democracy and support those who seek
protections for the people who live there. What we?re seeing in the
last couple of days here in New York is a President of Iran,
Ahmadinejad, who would come on our soil and express such disdain for
one of our closest allies and friends, Israel ? and we?re hearing the
evil that he speaks and if hearing him doesn?t allow Americans to
commit more solidly to protecting the friends and allies that we need,
especially there in the Mideast, then nothing will.?

As Goldberg says, the issue here isn?t that she gave a bad answer, rather ?the issue here is that she didn?t know the question.?

Finally, I love the “Correction” Glenn Greenwald issued last week:

I defended Palin as follows:

..Sarah Palin isn't Dan Quayle. She is extremely smart — much smarter
than the average media star who will eventually be interviewing her –
and she is very politically skilled as well. She didn't go from obscure
small-town city council member to Governor to Vice Presidential nominee
by accident. She'll be more than adequately prepared for the shallow,
30-second, rote exchanges that pass for political interviews in our
Serious mainstream discourse. Anyone expecting her to fall on her face
or be exposed as some drooling simpleton is going to be extremely
disappointed. That might (or might not) happen with real questioning,
but she's not going to face that.

I
was so wrong about that — the parts about Palin, that is, not the
press (though, in fairness, Gibson was far more adversarial than I
expected and Katie Couric was even better). Just watch these clips from
her interview last night with Katie Couric. I'll be honest: watching
this, I actually felt sorry for Sarah Palin:..

But Sarah Palin's performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted
dialogue in which we've been allowed to see her has been nothing short
of frightening — really, as I said, pity-inducing. And I say that as
someone who has thought from the start that the criticisms of her
abilities — as opposed to her ideology — were much too extreme. One
of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a)
completely ignorant about the most basic political issues — a vacant,
ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing
her actual beliefs about these matters because she's petrified of
deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she's been fed
and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even
when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted,
even rewarded, in our mainstream. I'm not really sure which is worse,
but it doesn't really matter, because with 40 days left before the
election, both options are heinous.

When Obama wins this election in five weeks, Sarah Palin will go down as an interesting historical footnote, but that's about it.  At first, it seemed that she might have a real future in the Republican party, but there's no way she can survive her own breathtaking ignorance on national issues (even within the anti-intellectual Republican party).  I feel pretty confident, though, that perhaps even decades from now, I will enjoy sharing the story of Sarah Palin with my future elections classes. 

Chart of the Day

Yeah, I know I should be blogging about the failed bailout bill, but that would take more time than I've got.  Instead, you just get this chart (via Andrew Sullivan):

Actually, I'll borrow Sullivan's brief commentary as well:

There's nothing wrong with cutting pork and off-shore drilling, done
responsibly. But if you think these are actual solutions to America's
real fiscal crisis, you really need to find another line of work

I don't know what's worse– that John McCain would actually think these are real solutions or that he would lie so blatantly to the American people.  One things is for sure, he'd much rather talk about earmarks (or probably anything) than his tax proposals.

Cell phone bias

As Nate Silver points out today, Obama is really winning the race quite handily in the polls:

Here's the long and short of it for John McCain: Barack Obama has as
large a lead in the election as he's held all year. But there is much
less time left on the clock than there was during other Obama periods
of strength, such as in February, mid-June or immediately following the
Democratic convention. This is a very difficult combination of
circumstances for him.

On the strength of a set of national tracking polls
that each show Obama at or near his high-water mark all year, our model
projects that he would win an election hold today by 4.2 points. It
discounts this lead slightly to a projected margin of 3.3 points on
November 4, as most races tend to tighten as we approach election day.

This
lead might not sound like that much, but it's fairly significant: we've
been through two conventions and one debate, voters have dug their
heels in, and Obama's position in the Electoral College is extremely
robust. Trimming away a 4-5 point lead isn't that difficult over the
summer months — in fact, McCain accomplished exactly that in July and
August — but it's a steeper hill to climb after Labor Day.

Here's the thing… as well as Obama is doing in recent polling, it may actually be understating his strength.  Generally speaking, pollsters only poll those with landlines.  People who rely solely on cell phones (predominantly younger Americans), do not get polled.  Pollsters are not stupid– they adjust by statistically weighting the sample to account for the fact that they are reaching fewer younger voters than they should.  Such adjustments should work fine, if one assumes that the young people with landlines are not significantly different from those with cell only.  It increasingly appears that when it comes to Obama, cell-only users are disproportionately strong supporters and that simply weighting the sample does not solve the problem.  Mark Blumenthal at Pollster.com nicely summarizes a recent Pew report on the matter:

Pollsters have long understood
that the cell phone only population — those who have cell phone but no
landline telephone service — tend to be younger, and that the growth
of that population has made it more difficult to reach 18-29-year olds.
However, the conventional wisdom among pollsters has held that
weighting by age could mostly alleviate any potential bias, as they did
they did in 2004.

The new Pew report shows why weighting by age may not have the same effect now:

Traditional landline surveys are typically weighted
to compensate for age and other demographic differences, but the
process depends on the assumption that the people reached over
landlines are similar politically to their cell-only counterparts.
These surveys suggest that this assumption is increasingly
questionable, particularly among younger people. [...]

In
the pooled [August-September] data, cell-only young people are
considerably less likely than young people reached by landline to
identify with or lean to the Republican Party, and even less likely to
say they support John McCain. Among landline respondents under age 30,
there is an 18-point gap in party identification – 54% identify or lean
Democratic while 36% are Republican. Among the cell-only respondents
under age 30, there is a 34-point gap – 62% are Democrats, 28%
Republican. The difference among registered voters on the horserace is
similar: 39% of registered voters under 30 reached by landline favor
McCain, compared with just 27% of cell-only respondents. Obama is
backed by 52% of landline respondents under 30, compared with 62% of
the cell-only.

Long and short of it, by not polling cell phones, typical polls may actually be underestimating Obama's support by about 2% on average.  Not a gigantic number, but it certainly makes his current lead seem all the more imposing.

What could be more pointless…

than asking Obama and McCain surrogates how their man fared immediately after the debate.  I fight boredom during the actual debate, but I really enjoy seeing the reactions of the talking heads as I madly flip between all the news channels immediately after the debate.  The various journalists and such are generally interesting, but hearing some campaign surrogate say their guy “won” is about as newsworthy as heavy traffic during rush-hour.  Anyway, chances are all this won't make a lot of difference.  The definitive analysis on that fact is here.

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