Category Archives: John McCain

You Don’t Say.

On Sunday, John McCain spoke out in favor of a policy that has meant the loss of thousands of qualified military personnel. Rightfully so, former Secretary of Army Clifford Alexander thinks this is deeply troubling:

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What’s so frustrating about this issue is that it seems unsophisticated for a civilized country. To me, government-sanctioned opposition to gays in the military seems far, far, beneath us. I can’t understand how, or why, we’re still having this debate.

Shouldn’t we, as a nation, be far beyond being weirded out by the thought of guys soul-kissing or thinking homosexuality is a contagious disease?

Beyond that, sustained discrimination against openly gay soldiers in the military denies all of us our humanity. We’ve essentially reduced the issue to a caricature, where gay soldiers are rigorously pursuing butt sex and straight soldiers are 9-year-olds afraid to take off their clothes in the locker room.

And then we need to consider the very real costs to our military, something that should be of paramount importance during a time of war.

Because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” we’ve lost more than 13,000 military personnel, including 800 with skills considered “mission critical,” and cost ourselves nearly $200 million in the process. It all seems like quite a waste.

Yet somehow, McCain thinks the policy is working well. Which proves how fortunate we all are that he was defeated on Nov. 4.

Nov. 4, Condensed.

3 Days Out. (Calm Down Everybody.)

A lot of people seem pretty nervous that Obama could lose the campaign (the news about Obama’s aunt seems too minor to make a big enough dent in his huge leads in three days).  But the math here is pretty straightforward, I think: if Obama wins all the Kerry states, + NM + CO+ IA, he’s the president. (If Obama just straight out wins all the states where he’s ahead right now, which is not a given, and lost ALL the toss-ups, he’d still win by a healthy margin.)

Nate is trying to assuage the neurotics.

Suppose that Barack Obama were to concede Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. Literally, concede them.

Throw ’em back, like a Chase Utley home run at a Cubs’ game. How often would he still win the election?

…89.0% of the time, according to our most recent run of simulations, along with another 2.4% of outcomes that ended in ties. This is because in the vast majority of our simulations, Obama either:

a) was winning at least 291 electoral votes, meaning that he could drop Pennsylvania’s 21 and still be over 270, and/or

b) was winning at least 270 electoral votes, while already being projected to lose Pennsylvania in the first place.

(a) was much, much more common than (b), obviously.

In order to win the election, all Barack Obama needs are the Kerry states, plus Colorado, Iowa and New Mexico. That adds up to 273 electoral votes.

Obama leads by at least 9.5% in every Kerry state and Iowa, according to both and Real Clear Politics. Also, my own numbers concur with those calculations.

This means that in order to win the election, all Obama has to do is hold onto states where he leads by 9.5% or more, and win both Colorado and New Mexico. These are both states where more than half of all voters will cast their ballots before Election Day (source). In other words, the elections in Colorado and New Mexico are already almost over, not just beginning. And these are the only two states he needs to win, other than the ones where he leads by double-digits.

In Colorado, about 60% of the vote is already in. According to the crosstabs of the three most recent polls in the state, Obama leads early voters by 15% (Rasmussen), 18% (Marist) and 17% (PPP). Even in the best case scenario for McCain, where he only trails by 15% among those who have already voted and only 55% of the vote is in, he still needs to win the remaining voters by 18.4% in order to eek out the state. And that is the best-case scenario. The worst case scenario for McCain–65% of the vote in and an 18% deficit among early voters–is that he needs to win the remaining voters by 33.5% in order to win the election.

That leaves New Mexico. In 2004, New Mexico had an even higher rate of early voting than Colorado (50.6% to 47.9%). Further, all polling aggregation sites show Obama’s lead to be larger in New Mexico than in Colorado. While the recent dearth of polling in the Land of Enchantment means there are no early voting crosstabs, those two facts suggest the situation is even worse for McCain in New Mexico than in Colorado. At the very least, it isn’t much better. Update: A new poll from PPP in New Mexico indicates that 56% of the vote is in, and Obama leads 64%-36% among those voters. If that is accurate, McCain would have to win the remaining voters by 35.7%.
So, unless Obama one of the following occurs:

Obama blows a double-digit lead in either Iowa or one Kerry state
McCain wins the minority of remaining voters in either Colorado or New Mexico by at least 20%
Then the election is over and Obama has won no matter what happens anywhere else.

Given the huge gap in the strength of the candidates’ GOTV efforts, it’s safe to say that the chances of McCain making up that gap is pretty small.

So, folks. The rest is easy. Be like shani: go vote.

Answer: Pretty Bad, Maybe.

G.D. wants to know how bad things have gotten for McCain.

Ambinder shares an e-mail received by Obama volunteers in Arizona. In response to polls showing how close the race is in the Copper State, Jon Carson writes, “Supporters like you have put us within striking distance. Now it’s time to pull off what no one expected.”

Also, according to Ben “In The Tank” Smith, has purchased ad time in the state. They’ll be running this:

Now, on one hand, the Obama message could just be another creative way of burning up some of that cash before Election Day. On the other, it’s really not looking good for McCain in his home state. Neither Nate’s nor RCP’s numbers show anything particularly outstanding for him.

In related news: I will literally, not figuratively, die laughing if Barack Obama wins Arizona.

The Economist Endorses, Drolly.

[Cover of The Economist from May ’08]

Those crazy Brits:

For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

They also buy into the Senator McCain vs. Candidate McCain foolishness:

Ironically, given that he first won over so many independents by speaking his mind, the case for Mr McCain comes down to a piece of artifice: vote for him on the assumption that he does not believe a word of what he has been saying. Once he reaches the White House, runs this argument, he will put Mrs Palin back in her box, throw away his unrealistic tax plan and begin negotiations with the Democratic Congress. That is plausible; but it is a long way from the convincing case that Mr McCain could have made. Had he become president in 2000 instead of Mr Bush, the world might have had fewer problems. But this time it is beset by problems, and Mr McCain has not proved that he knows how to deal with them.

And then they get weird:

Our main doubts about Mr Obama have to do with the damage a muddle-headed Democratic Congress might try to do to the economy. Despite the protectionist rhetoric that still sometimes seeps into his speeches, Mr Obama would not sponsor a China-bashing bill. But what happens if one appears out of Congress? Worryingly, he has a poor record of defying his party’s baronies, especially the unions. His advisers insist that Mr Obama is too clever to usher in a new age of over-regulation, that he will stop such nonsense getting out of Congress, that he is a political chameleon who would move to the centre in Washington. But the risk remains that on economic matters the centre that Mr Obama moves to would be that of his party, not that of the country as a whole.

So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

What a strange endorsement.  Obviously the British (and the rest of the world) have a stake in this election, but on the other hand, they don’t have a say.  That might explain why the tone of the endorsement was rather aloof.  The argument boiled down to this: Obama ran a cooler campaign, so why not give him a shot?

It was a 2000-word shrug.

Irresponsible Speculation.

(Cross-posted from U.S. of J.)

Like the good Ned Resnikoff (a friend of the blog, and fellow Pushbacker), I too support irresponsible speculation.  After all, if I didn’t, why else would I maintain this blog obsessively.  With that in mind – and because I don’t feel like doing anything productive – here is what I predict the map will look like on November 5th (You can find Ned’s take here.):

How likely do you think this is?

How likely do you think this is?

Our maps are almost identical, with the exception of North Dakota and Missouri.  Ned predicts that North Dakota will flip, while Missouri stays in the Republican camp.  I’m not so sure.  Considering it’s proximity to Illinois, it’s somewhat more favorable demographic profile (more black people), and the fact that the Obama campaign has invested a lot of time and money there, I think Missouri is the more likely pick up.

You know, this seems to have the makings of a meme, and with that in mind, I’m going to tag John, Matt, and Dylan.

How Bad Have Things Gotten for McCain?


This bad. [Via TPM.]

Care to guess where that robocall is going out? Arizona, which has tightened enough that the McCain camp has to play it safe. It doesn’t matter if Obama wins AZ — he’s got a lot of paths to 270 — but it matters that it forces McCain to have to spend his money (which is relatively limited) on defense in his home state, and not in  places that he needs like Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.* (If you look at the electoral maps, though, it’s clear that even with those states he would fall way short if Obama wins all the Kerry states and those Bush states that are leaning his way.)

*In the short period of time I’ve been home visiting I’ve seen a lot of Obama commercials, but relatively few McCain spots. McCain needs PA to make his longshot chance possible, but this state isn’t really a battleground; it has gone Democratic since ’88 and the race this year is no longer close.