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"Lipstick on a Pig": The 'Silly Season' Commences

Soeren Kern quotes some of the European commentary on Sarah Palin and concludes in the American Thinker that it ranges "from ridicule, to ridicule, to more ridicule, to reluctant acknowledgment that Barack Obama may have met his match." (HT: Marie Claude)


Donald Stadler comments on recent developments in the US presidential campaign in this guest blog post for Atlantic Review:

Every four years the people of the US descend into a period of raving lunacy rivaled only by such spectacles as Carneval in Venice, Oktoberfest in München and any presidential visit by GW Bush to Germany. Usually this commences about the beginning of October and continues until the presidential election early in November: in 2000 the period was prolonged and the lunacy deepened due to post-election events I shall not further describe. This year it would seem the season has come early. I was first alerted to this by a comment written on a blog entry on Andrew Hammel's excellent (and usually light-hearted) German Joys blog.

Hammel comments humorously about the name of Nancy Pfotenhauer, a spokesperson for GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, (pronounced "Hassenpfeffer"). Other posts replied in kind but yesterday the Lunacy Squad struck. A never before seen poster named 'Jim' posted a huge stream of conciousness attack upon 'Hassenpfeffer' (or whatever her name is) a la James Joyce, apparently somehow concerning a comment which Barack Obama made recently about putting lipstick on a pig.

I looked into the 'lipstick' issue in greater depth as there appears to be some confusion. Obama was alleged to have compared Sarah Palin to a pig, but after viewing the video I believe he may have been alluding to his opinion that nominating McCain and Palin was putting lipstick on the 'pig' named the GOP. Perhaps slightly offensive but not personally so. The Democrats are making an enormous fuss about an ad the McCain campaign ran about the comment. Unfortunately YouTube has removed the video of the McCain ad so I cannot comment about that part of it. Perhaps someone who has seen it could kindly do so?

Some comments here. What had been a reasonably couth campaign season began it's descent into gibbering madness with the shock announcement by McCain that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be his choice for Vice President on the GOP ticket. As this occurred over a weekend the initial reaction was therefore from the blogosphere ('Daily Kos' & company) and 4th-rate weekend 'journalists' and was predictably unfortunate. These people tend to lack - subtlety. And balance. Judgement. Sarah Palin & her family were rather outrageously lampooned about private matters, and Palin used her nominating speech to open up a little on Senator Obama - not without wit and subtlety. McCain has acquired a 'bounce' and is now in the lead in some national polls, although state polling data does not reflect a McCain jump currently.

The past 10 days have been surreal, but in an unfamiliar way. Obama has been impressive in this period. He has kept his cool and appears to be trying to steer the campaign back to calm. Unfortunately he's been drowned out by many of his most fervent partisans who have doubled and redoubled their angry attacks on McCain and Palin. Right now it's a food fight, and the 'voice of reason' tends not to be heard during food fights.

McCain has mostly kept his cool but not as well as Obama I think. Palin is deliberately egging things on to a degree, but this is a tactic not hotheadedness.

The Democrats need to calm down, and quickly. Their best asset is the candidate himself. Right now everyone is being covered with cream pies & Obama has been drowned out. Pie fights cover everyone with lemon merangue, and people dripping with merangue all look the same. Differences are the Democrat's friend this year, so it's best they stop tossing pies and clean up their mess.

Chaos is McCain's biggest friend this year, so don't expect him and Palin to use the same playbook. Nevertheless if Democrats take control of their own actions and behavior I think McCain will be compelled to follow suite to avoid appearing petty, vindictive, and childish.

One more thing; I think the tables may have been turned. In 2004 Kerry lost his head when the Swift Boats campaign began. We were hearing a lot of whimpering about unfairness from Democrats. This year it's the McCain camp playing the unfairness card. Obama is keeping his head and has not been attacking Palin unfairly. If the Kerry loss of control was a leading indicator of his loss in 2004, possibly the McCain response to the Palin attack may be a similar sign of weakness. One thing I hope EVERYONE has learned from 2004 is that it's a VERY BAD idea to make attacks based upon forged 'evidence'. The National Guard memo 'scandal' may have cost Kerry the election even though there exits no proof his campaign had nothing to do with the memos.

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Marie Claude on :

"If the Kerry loss of control was a leading indicator of his loss in 2004" the Vatican "inquisiton" leader helped that 75 millions chritians opted for Bush by ordering the american bishops to campaign for him instead of the moral relativist Kerry, who should have been the reel candidate for the roman catholic church

Don S on :

An interesting theory, franchie, but utter ballocks I fear. The pope doesn't tell the Catholic laity anything in the US. The pope can't tell the priesthood in the US what to preach, and the laity don't listen to the priests on stuff like this anyway. The bishops may listen, but they amount to perhaps 1000 votes nationwide. Opus Dei? Their numbers aren't impressive, they have no influence on the general laity, and anyone likely to be influenced by them isn't likely to vote for Obama without the influence anyway. Same for Benedict/Ratzinger.

Marie Claude on :

http://www.americamagazine.org/content/articles/martin-opusdei.cfm http://www.rue89.com/jean-yves-camus/opus-dei-et-consorts-enquete-sur-lideologie-du-pape

Joe Noory on :

"The Pope engineers these things" is your reasoned political analysis? Look, I wouldn't take Rue89 seriously at all - they even struggle with things like spelling... calling the President "Georges" Bush and spelling McCain "Mac Cain" from time to time. Like so many in the fringe, low quality press, they aren't even able to account for their own obsessions when they attempt explanation. Besides, the "silly season" will be entirely eclipse for today at the very least to AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch.

Marie Claude on :

my dear Joe, it isn't a typical Rue89 report, but a billet on the book "the new Pope's soldiers", if you go on Ebay, you'll get the same approach, but you don't like that of course, ; why is it that one of the conservative politicians, Rick Santonum, was present at the centenary commemoration of the birth of Josemaria Escriva, that JPII beatified in 2002 ?

Joe Noory on :

1) I'm not your dear Joe 2) So what? Opinions are cheap for journalists, and what's painfully obvious in Kern's post is just how cheap, thoughtless and casual much of the EUropean press is - knowing that the media bubble that they work in is so small. The fact remains that these silly assertions made by many European papers are simply opinion and sometimes fantasies that simply get taken as fact. Americans aren't special. The press types may be especially hateful and resentful of Americans, but they carry around the very same negligence with respect to most of news that's beyond the direct reach of their readership. And for simple reasons too - they know the sort of story their readership will fact-check or take personally. They also know who to throw red meat at to sell a paper. Jeorg did a nice job recently of [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1164-Understanding-John-McCains-Appeal-to-US-Voters.html]capturing the problem[/url]. BTW, your comment to the Kern piece on American Thinker was just plain silly... suggesting that all of this came from the English papers because english speakers have direct access to the language. Kern is a fluent Spanish and French speaker, and cited El Pais, Le Figaro, and Le Monde.

Marie Claude on :

so fair Joe, you can't agree with those that don't share you views, bizarre I read also that it's typical of french elite's "BTW, your comment to the Kern piece on American Thinker was just plain silly... suggesting that all of this came from the English papers because english speakers have direct access to the language." I am surprised you didn't respond then to what I wrote there : "Palin will "trigger the eruption of moral intolerance in the campaign. This is actually rather funny, because French elites are notoriously tolerant with everyone, except for those who do not agree with them." If you'd known a bit of our history, you'd seen that religion integrisms were the cause of our mortality big ratios. So no wonder that we are NOW a bit precautious against the religious discourses. other than that, we don't care who's going to rule the US wether you are right or left wings, you'll still have the same contempting regard on us, dunno from where that comes from ; a guess, anything to do with the easier reading of the UK papers ?" yeah, I noticed that the anglo papers are fair on us and or on Germany and to add to the conspiration, for your info : http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt08/haidt08_index.html

Joe Noory on :

You didn't write it, someone at Le Figaro did. There's no reason to react to something that reaching and speculative. Palin's presence has removed from the equation the immoral manipulation by the democrats using identity politics over people. As for this notion that french society has some great means of "religious integration" when they bully public people out of their individual freedom for the sake of an image. What purpose is served by not wanting Santorum from personally and attending a ceremony? What cause of liberty is served by not permitting young women to wear headscarves? Those aren't acts in the interest of freedom or tolerance, they are intolerant limitations on personal liberties. Talk as they might about respecting the individual, they don't. They still don't get the notion of free will - of expression without limiting others. They might have progressed over the centuries, but most European societies still can't quite grasp liberties. Why else would people be so eager to promote the virtues of "little freedoms" hat aren't unique to them if they didn't have questions and suspicions about their fundamental liberties?

Marie Claude on :

I guess this is the problem : http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/charles_bremner/2008/09/barack-obama-th.html?cid=130011450#comments I suppose you know this site http://www.miquelon.org/2008/09/10/john-mccain-please-leave-france-alone/#more-230 and also this one http://superfrenchie.com/?p=1594#comments

Marie Claude on :

see how one cares for our religiosity ? http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWFlYmEzNWZmNWYxODAzOThjN2NhOGI1MTFjOGM4NDM= Am I pointing a conspiraty?

Don S on :

The 'Inquisition' theory is right up there with Rudy Scharping's batshit theory that Jews control the US. Only someone in Europe or who believes in conspiracy theories (Illuminati, Masons) could believe such tosh.

Marie Claude on :

Ok, Im waiting that my links are edited they aren't refering to the Da Vinci Code though, also it's bizarre that my friends christian Americans also referred Benedict's last book http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Tolerance-Christian-Belief-Religions/dp/158617035X

Don S on :

Unfortunately things look a little more serious now than when I wrote that lighthearted piece. Obama himself seems to have succumbed to the bait and is now attacking Fort Palin. The problem is that the firestorm of attack is: A) Directed against the wrong target. B) Causing collateral damage to Obama himself. McCain is sitting high and dry while Obama & his partisans try to obliberate Sarah Palin. The assault necessarily touches on the experience issue, which is not good terrain for Obama to fight upon. Obama needs to be landing damage on John McCain, not Sarah Palin. Attacking Palin makes Obama look like a lightweight. I've been watching other leading indicators and they are not good. Obama may be starting to slip in state polls & has certainly been slipping in national ones. The state polls are the more ominous sign. The second indicator is the Intrade market on the Presidential candidates. McCain is selling at aboput 51, Obama at 48, the first time this has happened.

Fuchur on :

[i]I looked into the 'lipstick' issue in greater depth as there appears to be some confusion.[/i] Oh, come on. There cannot be any confusion on this ridiculous issue. The insinuation that this common expression would be in any way offensive is just ludicrous. [i]In 2004 Kerry lost his head when the Swift Boats campaign began. [/i] Hm, that an interesting point of view. Many others have claimed just the opposite: That Kerry lost the election, because he reacted too statesman-like to the Rovian smear campaign, and didn't shoot back in the same manner. (I haven't followed the election closely enough to say anything on that...)

quo vadis on :

Kerry lost because he was a weak candidate with a weak message. If he had been a better candidate or if he had a better message than 'I'm not (exactly) Bush', he would have won. If all Democratic party learned from the 2004 election is that they need to be more combative, the fact that they are in trouble again 4 years later should come as no surprise. They would be better off if they took the American electorate a bit more seriously.

Don S on :

Kerry was a weak candidate, but one manifestation of that weakness was that 'deer caught in the headlights' moment when the swifties came after him. He didn't react and the Bush campaign did, and the air went out of the campaign. I see something like that maybe happening this year but if so it's because the Obama campaign did it to themselves. Sarah Palin may be a ripe target but she's the wrong target. The focus should be on what Obama can do for middle america. Failing that they should be at least firing at McCain....

quo vadis on :

Kerry was weak in a lot of more important ways. He was little more than a cardboard cutout of a candidate with some medals pinned to his chest. The party had been taken hostage by the anti-war wing in 2004 to the point of ignoring everything else, and they picked the candidate the anti-war wing considered the perfect soldier - the Winter Soldier. THEY felt he gave the them a spokesperson with unimpeachable authority on the issue of the war, but anyone who might have been genuinely impressed with his war record would have been repelled by his Winter Soldier performance; the Swiftboaters simply underscored the disconnect. For post-boomers like me, the Viet Nam war is ancient history, so that whole controversy played like some grainy wartime newsreel. Given that, there was little about Kerry for me to get excited about. I voted for him because I preferred someone who I only suspected would be incompetent to someone who had proven to be incompetent.

Don S on :

I felt sorry for Kerry in a lot of ways, because I felt the way his party developed in the post-Vietnam era twisted him out of the politician he could have been. He should have been able to serve out his entire year, should have been able to be proud of his medals and not repudiate them, should have been able to socialize and reminisce with his fellow Swift-Boaters, not had to make those dumb speeches about the trauma of being in Cambodian waters, etc. But what I really don't understand about the Democrats is that they failed to nominate another Kerrey - Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey one of those years. Lost a leg in Vietnam and won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Talk about an honorable (and unassailable) record! Bit of a skirt hound I think, but that didn't stop Billy-Jeff, did it? Hopefully we're past all that now. Obama is the first post-Vietnam candidate since Dole in 1996, and Hillary Clinton is the last Culture Wars candidate left standing in the Democratic Party.

Don S on :

Fucher, I think that Kerry wagered FAR too much on his paper-thin 4 month Vietnam resume, without considering tht he made some huge lasting enemies by trashing his fellow boaties and throwing away his ribbons. Kerry ran a 'cult of personality' campaign and when other boaties attacked the resume he had little to fall back upon. 'I'm not Bush' wasn't enough.

David on :

I agree with Don that Obama needs to "keep his cool" and focus his attention on the issues and the top of the Republican ticket. But the press needs to do its job as well and expose the dishonesty of the McCain campaign. There is some evidence that the meme "McCain lies" is taking hold among journalists. Even conservatives like Byron York are disgusted by McCain. The well-respected David Iganatius has also apparently seen enough, and expresses it eloquently today in his [url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/12/AR2008091202594.html?hpid%3Dopinionsbox1&sub=AR]Washington Post op/ed piece[/url] today.

Don S on :

Dave, how much water do you suppose Ignatius holds with Hillry voters in central Pennsylvania, Flint, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, or Florida? Not much. Obama needs to carry the message himself if it is to work. Mainstream media first lost its credibility by being too in the bag for the Democrats, and now it's lost it's monopoly on control of news channels. I think Obama would be better off with a strictly neutral press which wouldn't go after Palin for him, because the attacks on Palin, not Palin herself have become the whole story. And that don't play well in the swing states.

Pat Patterson on :

"Just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question." Sen. John Kerry in a press conference referring to the TANG documents, in 2001. But the head of the DNC was more blunt and charged that, "George Bush never showed up. He was AWOL for the Alabama National Guard..." Quote from Terry McAuliffe then Chariman of the DNC in 2001. Kerry didn't back off until after the WH and the TANG and the Alabama National Guard produced documents showing the intial charges by Burkett were fake. The DNC and Kerry may not have anything to do with creating the bogus documents but they weren't smart enough to let the charge remain the topic de jure and then looked vindictive and foolish when the charges were refuted. The vote by state is much more fluid then Don S. let own as Florida is now solidly Republican as well as Missouri though both were considered possible wins for Obama just two weeks ago. Minnesota, yes ultrliberal Minnesota, is now up for grabs though Obama had a solid 8-10% lead just a few weeks ago. Though both his national and state numbers started slipping on July 26th after the Tiergarten concert and virgin sacrifice. Ok, I made the last part up.

Don S on :

Don't be too hard on them, Pat. It's HARD to find virgins this day in age! ;)

Marie Claude on :

though a quite right wingged obsession, normal accident ! but an institutionalised moral relatived sin for the other wing LMAO

Don S on :

More of a aging male obsession I think, franchie. Although personally I would be interested in a supply of non-virgin females should you know of a source. ;)

Marie Claude on :

Don, the russian girls are very beautiful :)

Pat Patterson on :

I missed on of Don's posts where he and I essentially agreed that there is some minor to serious slippage in national and statewide support for Obama. I need to apologize for stating that Don was misleading in his statement. I have gone through Byron York's latest writings and could find no Road to Damascus event that hinted at any sudden disgust directed at John McCain. In fact one of his articles makes it clear that York approved of McCain's conversion from a RINO to more mainstream Republican thinking. A link or citation would be nice to provide illumination of this claim. Plus I sure that David was unaware that VP. Gore and David Ignatius have been friends since they both went to St. Albans in the 60's. So that is not really a turnaround but rather a statement confirming views held for decades.

Don S on :

Pat, there is going to be an update to this blog post with several more links when the AR staff gets a round tuit. Apparently these cannot be obtained in Germany on a Sunday because the hardware stores are closed. Some interesting pieces on how McCain has gotten inside Obama's OODA 'loop', on how Clinton won campaigns and survived crisies, and how the Democrats need to show more 'respect' for Middle America.

Pat Patterson on :

I am stunned as I never in a million years expected to find a reference to John Boyd on any website originating from outside the USA. It's too dark to check if there are any porcine objects flying about!

Don S on :

There was a column by Michael Barone in USN&WR linked to Realpolitics on Saturday. Barone wrote about McCain being inside Obama's OODA loop and wrote about Boyd and what the OODA loop was. I was curious enough to look up John Boyd on wikipedia. Fascinating man, perhaps one of the greatest unsung geniuses of the 20th century.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Boyd, is outstanding.

Reid of America on :

The Obama campaign is collapsing. He was up 18 point in New York in July and now he is up 5 points according to poll released today. When you include the Bradley Effect New York is now a toss-up. Many states that were competitive are now solidly McCain. Democratic insiders are now starting to panic. The Democrats were fools for selecting Barack Hussein Obama. As I have said since the start of the campaign Obama is a 50 state loser.

Don S on :

Can't agree, Reid. I had a look at the Realpolitics New York poll data. Siena has run the two most recent polls, with Obama having an 8 pt lead a month ago and 5 with this last one. Compared to the other polls Siena seems to be an outlier showing an 18 pt Obama lead a couple polls ago while the other were all in the 20's. If we assum that the other polls are tracking the Siena poll then Obama has lost 13 points, which would still leave him 10 points up in NY - minimum. No way he loses it unless he gets caught with a dead girl in his bed. But..... If he's losing ground at a similar clip in teu swing states it could be bad news for him. And the country, because we'll have a McCain presidency with a Democrat congress out for his blood.

Pat Patterson on :

I'm not sure that NY will vote a Republican ticket, presidential or congressional, within my lifetime but the current Gallup poll shows that what had been a 10-13% gap in favor of Democrats in Congress has narrowed to 2-3%. This may or may not continue but it indicates that there really might not be the gain the Democrats need to have veto proof majorities in the Senate and a plurality in the House. As a result any plans that the Democrats may have for either a new order or a witch hunt via committee hearings may remain a wish unfulfilled. The Democrats may be looking at least two more years of their worst nightmare. They will have majorities in Congress but have to face an institutional bias towards the policies, new and old, of the president. Thank goodness for the separation of powers and the possibility that the American people might just be happier in the long run of having the status quo as opposed to romantic excitement.

Joseph Reinhart on :

Most pollsters and thier handlers, the liberal party, (not the Democrat party, almost 100% owned by the liberal party)are refusing to give crdit where it is due. This election may be decided by the recent economic events, but conservatives and in fact most Americans are smart enough to know that the banking fiasco wasn't caulsed by the Conservative party, who used to own the Repulican party! It is caused by liberal banking regulations. I knew it would come back to haunt them when "the government" started requiring banks to lend to ineligible borrowers -- "But we must allow those who missed out on life's lottery to achieve the American dream and own their own homes!" It was the "affirmative action" of the lending world. Conservatives don't do that. If the do, they aren't conservatives. They are liberals. The super-liberal Democrat politicians ruined the economy. Not Obama, because he wasn't even there yet. No, by liberal politicians that aren't even as liberal as Obama is forced laws that demaded banks loan to marginal borrowers, and that is what gave us todays economic fiasco. So the voters will ask; "Will electing a person even more outragously liberal than the liberals who caused this mess get us out of it?" As Obama said, "A pig in lipstick." Yet that applies to himself.

joe on :

Pat, You just never know. PM had an interesting analysis of the BE. The BE could be much greater in places like NY, NJ and PA than say in NC, VA and FL. That McCain at this point has closed the gap in so many states is a bit amazing. Take Mn, it is now called a toss up. Yet it was the only state Reagan did not win in his 49 state blow out. What I am seeing more and more from M$M is setting the stage for the reasons the Chosen One might not win. Race is the only topic really being discussed. It would appear from their perspective it is the only reason someone should not vote for him. The lastest poles show he is down among white voters but not that much. 2000 Algore 42% 2004 Kerry 41% 2008 Obama 38%. Much of this can be offset by the increase of blacks and latino votes he is picking up. So that a democrat is losing the white vote is nothing new and with each election cycle they seem to be getting less and less of that vote as they move more to the left. Several months ago I made a comment about what if the chosen one lost. I stand by that. It is going to be almost as bad as if he won, should he lose. David and his pals will just go nuts for the next 4 years.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Donald Stadler = Don S? Anyway, thanks for posting. It has been one long, long campaign. A two year interview for a four year job? One simply runs out of things to say. So I agree there has been a lot of silliness on both sides, and it continues. One technical point -- the phrase "the silly season" in US politics traditionally refers to the summer of an election year, i.e., the summer now sadly drawing to a close here in northern Michigan. So actually, the official silly season is over, and we are experiencing silliness of a different season... Perhaps the normal silly season was short-changed this year, since the Democrats took longer than usual to pick a nominee. Therefore there is an excess of unrequited silliness that has bubbled and stumbled into the Fall Campaign? Regarding the lipstick on the pig, a literal reading of Obama's remarks, ignoring the context, might support your position that he wasn't calling Palin a pig. However, Obama's lipstick remark came after Palin's speech in which she joked about the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom (the difference is lipstick, and it's absolutely true!). [i]This context IS relevant.[/i] If Obama's remark is seen as a response to Palin's joke, then clearly is Obama suggesting that Palin is the pig wearing lipstick. In other, not so silly news, [url=http://www.blackfive.net/main/2008/09/god-speed-track.html]Track Palin is off to war[/url]. Best of luck to him.

Don S on :

Guest author to editors: I sent an update for this guest blog post Sunday, and it seems stuck in the aether somewhere. Several new links.

John in Michigan, USA on :

[url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122149777671437025.html?mod=djemBestOfTheWeb]This blog post[/url] describes quite well how and why remarks like "lipstick" matter.

Don S on :

With the recent troubles on Wall Street the campaign has dropped a lot of it's sillier aspects. Obama quit trying to crush Palin and instead directed his efforts toward blamng the various bankruptcies on the GOP generally and McCain specifically. McCain has been floundering a bit. The naional polls have turned from a virtual tie - advantage McCain to virtual tie - advantage Obama, and the recent 5 point McCain advantage on the Intrade election prediction site has become a 3 point edge for Obama. I consider the election market to be the leading indicator, and right now it is giving Obama about a 52% chance of winning in November. Let's hope the economic news improves but that Obama can keep his focus on the things which matter. The crisis has been good for him because middle America worries about it and it can be pinned to Bush politically. But a deeper crisis may lead to a contrary judgement, a desire to put the country into safe & experienced hands. None of the candidates can make a claim to deep economic experience. I think middle America has a desire to see considerable regulation of the financial, insurance, and mortgage markets although this might not be strictly necessary as a badly burnt Wall Street is going to be risk-averse in future. For a generation anyway. Anyone who lived through this crash will not wish to repeat it.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"the campaign has dropped a lot of it's sillier aspects." Plenty of silliness remains. Consider the attempt to blame the current crisis on the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley law. Even if we accept that that law is to blame, there is a problem: [url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122158807066443975.html?mod=djemBestOfTheWeb]both Obama and Biden voted FOR that law[/url]! More honest and less silly was the remarks of the leader of the Senate, Democrat Harry Reid, explaining why the Senate wouldn't stay in session this autumn: "Lawmakers say they are unlikely to take action before, or to delay, their planned adjournments -- Sept. 26 for the House of Representatives, a week later for the Senate. While they haven't ruled out returning after the Nov. 4 elections, they would rather wait until next year unless Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who are leading efforts to contain the crisis, call for help. One reason, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday, is that ``no one knows what to do'' at the moment." -- [url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=washingtonstory&sid=aVPBaUbYV_qQ]Source[/url] Your statement "The naional polls have turned from a virtual tie - advantage McCain to virtual tie - advantage Obama" is clever, but it suggests you have no appreciation of the concept of margin of error. Besides, [i]the national polls are meaningless[/i]. They are like judging a football (soccer) match by looking at time in possession of the ball, instead of the score. You have to look at the state-by-state polls in order to predict how the Electoral Collage will perform. As I've posted before, [url=http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/]There is a great web site for this[/url]. As you see McCain is slightly in the lead but the election is still too close to call due to the number of toss-up states. This site does understand margin of error, that is one of the reasons so many states are in the "toss-up" category. [url=http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/?map=10]You can also see the map without toss-ups, just for fun.[/url] McCain wins, narrowly, if the election was today and if the polls have no errors. [url=http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/election_2008/electoral_count.html#previous_changes]This site also keeps a history of past state-by-state polls[/url]. Look at the fifth column labelled "RCP Electoral Count", you can see that in June, July and August, Obama used to have a considerable lead although it was still not enough to win without the toss-up states. This suggests that recently, McCain has made considerable gains. The Intrade and similar market-based mechanisms for predicting the outcome are intersting. These mechanisms are somewhat new and untested. They hardly even existed 10 years ago. They aren't scientific, but markets have an uncanny ability to predict certain things. We will see.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Crap! I meant to say: "Even if we accept that that law is to blame, there is a problem: Biden voted FOR that law!" Obama was a state senator in 1999, so he couldn't vote for or against it. I think I read someplace that he supported Gramm-Leach-Bliley or something very similar to it, but I can't find that right now.

Don S on :

John, I was referring to the average of national polls which Realpolitics maintains. That also has a margin of error though it's impossible to work out what it is. Probably smaller than the MOE for the individual polls. The state polls are what matter, but also tend to be slightly older data than the national tracking polls are. The state polls (at best) tend to show the situation between 2 days and a week ago, although the lag varies. A week ago when the McCain surge was at it's height in the national trackers, the state polls then available showed less of a Mccain surge. The state poll results from the past couple days show a McCain movement while the national polls show a slight Obama movement. I assume that state polls in the middle of next week will show a Obama movement. I just looked at Intrade data on realpolitics; it shows McCain & Obama contracts selling at the same price. I think it's a toss-up right now.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Don, Yes, the state polls lag behind the national polls. They also have some of the same problems (see below) as the nationwide RCP average. But, at least they are attempting measure the correct variable. It is the performance of the Electoral College that matters, not the nationwide vote totals. This was my position in the past, when the state-by-state showed Obama to be winning, which they might show again in the next week or two. We will see. Why be in a rush to declare the Obama campaign to be back on top? Are you trying to spin us :-0 Yes, there are statistical techniques that allow you to combine the results of several different studies and arrive at essentially a higher number for [i]n[/i] (sample size) and therefore a smaller margin of error. These techniques are called meta-analysis. The assumption is that the different studies are studying the same underlying variable, where 'same' satisfies a number of technical assumptions that statisticians love to argue about. However, as far as anyone can tell, the RCP average is just a simple average, and doesn't use meta-analysis. With a simple average, to be safe, the error margins should be assumed to accumulate rather than cancel each other out. I don't think they can use meta-analysis, for at least three reasons: 1) Some polls measure likely voters (LV), some measure registered voters (RV). They are not the same thing. 2) Public opinion is highly volatile. If you have identical polls conducted a week apart, are you really measuring "the same thing" in the two polls, or has opinion changed in that interval? 3) Some polls, such as Zogby, admit they tweak the results in an attempt to correct for intangible error factors that, according to Mr. Zogby, are sometimes based on little more than his intuition for "feel" for the data. Other polls don't do that, or, don't admit that they do. Any meta-analysis would have to have access to "untweaked" data, and also a very careful definition of what exactly is "tweaking" vs. the more legitimate, but also problematic, sample "modeling". In short, the RCP average is a very clever marketing gimmick. But the site has so many other great features, I still recommend them.

Pat Patterson on :

Didn't Intrade and Betfair have Sen. Kerry at 52% the morning of the election?

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